The Elkhart Truth on June 30, 2016 by Sharon Hernandez
ELKHART — A new plan unveiled by Elkhart County staff Wednesday calls for a major reconfiguration in how children, particularly those with potential health issues, should be treated in the county’s juvenile justice system.
The project calls for building a Juvenile Resource Center, which would screen and assess youth accused of delinquency to determine the most appropriate intervention. Those actions could include anything from requiring mental health treatment to detention.
The goal, however, is to lower the number of children sent to a detention facility and find alternatives that may reduce trauma and recidivism.
The staff recommends building a free-standing facility of up to 12,000 square feet, preferably in the city of Elkhart, as most of the referred youth are from the city.
The plan would also potentially tackle issues with the county’s current juvenile detention facility, which is outdated and quickly deteriorating. Staff working on the proposal recommend an interim agreement with St. Joseph County’s detention facility to house children.