BELLEFONTE — With increased state funding this year, Centre County will be looking to improve its juvenile probation program.
The county will attempt to institute some evidence-based programs to streamline the operations and reduce the chances of seeing repeat offenders among juveniles.
“Research indicates evidence-based programs provide the best level of service to affect recidivism for adolescents,” Tom Backenstoe, county juvenile supervisor, said.
Those programs use multisystemic therapy and other scientific strategies to identify what treatments the young people need to stay away from crime.
The county received an extra $10,000 from the state this year to help to start the programs. The grant allocation for the year totaled about $104,000. The Centre County Board of Commissioners approved the grant agreement at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The extra money comes from a shutdown of a state juvenile facility for high-risk individuals.
The Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission is encouraging the counties to use this system more frequently.
Backenstoe said that the programs will allow workers to identify and separate moderate- to high-need youths from lower-needs ones to streamline the probation process.
It puts more science behind the program and removes some of probation officers’ gut feelings from the equation, said Tom Young, county director of Probation and Parole.
“It takes some of the guesswork out of the business,” he said.
Backenstoe said the grant funding is disbursed on a yearly basis based on the state budget, and that there is no guarantee the increased funding will come every year.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.