They believe the children are the future. Sometimes intervention can set a kid on the right path. There’s always a risk that the efforts will be fruitless yet there’s a larger risk if one stands by and does nothing. The Youth Encouragement System (YES) of Delaware County is doing something. And they’re also making a difference.
The system doesn’t always work. Nonviolent juveniles become wrapped up in the gears like an inadvertent necktie. The objective is to expedite the process and provide guidance. This heals the wound before it becomes a scar on the skin of society.
“There’s quick accountability that takes place here,” said Judge Barry Denney who assisted in getting the program off of the ground.
There are 47 counties and communities in the state that participate in the Graduated Sanctions concept of which YES was derived. Most are supported by grants and the hard work of volunteers. Once referred by the DA’s Office, the young offenders are reviewed by a committee made up of area leaders. The result can lead to a number of options including counseling, curfews and jail tours. The whole idea is that the youth never return to a courtroom again.
“The program has about a 10% recidivism rate. It’s like other things. Most of the success stories you don’t hear about, but the failures you do,” said David Durossette of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
Many of the values of the past are difficult to find. Those involved with YES believe it’s time they return. With the court system often being the only alternative, efforts are made to point the young people in the right direction. It’s a small portion of a larger whole.
“The real objective is to change their actions and the way they do things,” said Lavele Frantz as he spoke to the Rotary Club of Grove.
Parents are involved with each step as a Service Plan is developed. If the child meets the requirements of the plan, the law is no longer a part of the equation. While YES works from an annual budget of about $16,000, donations are always welcome. There’s also a place for any caring volunteers as well. After all, a community that remains involved, is a stronger community.
“I hope there are a number of you that are sitting out there saying ‘How can I help?’.” Said Frantz.