Garfield County commissioners extend support for YouthZone diversion program
The Garfield County commissioners continued their support for YouthZone’s diversion program on Monday, as the commissioners elected to allocate $58,000 requested for the program in the 2019 budget.
Commissioner Mike Samson said the program is the perfect example of seeing a return on an investment because, in the long run, he said the money put into the program is less than what the county would be paying if YouthZone didn’t exist.
YouthZone executive director Lori Mueller said if the youth stayed in the juvenile system it would cost the state around $60,000 annually, while it costs YouthZone around $1,500 to work with each kid.
The juvenile diversion program provides youth an alternative to entering the juvenile justice system and, with statistics to back it up, it has proven to be a successful route for first time offenders, she said.
Mueller said YouthZone has been operating the diversion program for over 25 years and it continues to have a high success rate.
Nine out of 10 youth do not reoffend once in the diversion program, whereas if they stayed in the system that number is closer to four out of 10, she said.
The program diverted over 300 youth in the past year.
“The $58,000 goes a long way to helping us support our complete diversion program,” she added.
The overall budget of the youth diversion program is $413,185.
County commissioners agreed unanimously to support the program through the nonprofit general fund.