Program awarded $650K grant

Will help at-risk youths

FONDA — A six-county Mohawk Valley program that serves Montgomery County has been awarded $650,000 to assist youths under probation supervision.

The Second Chance Act grant will fund a new Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project to assist youth in the Mohawk Valley under community supervision. The program will see a pilot program in the Mohawk Valley to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for youth under community supervision.

Federal funding of $650,000 will implement the pilot. The Second Chance Act grant will support a partnership between the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and Kids Oneida, a non profit organization in Utica, to establish the Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project throughout six counties in the Mohawk Valley.

“This funding will provide resources to help break the vicious cycle of recidivism and help at-risk youth in the Mohawk Valley better reintegrate into society and lead more productive lives,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. “Expanding access to these critical services will help turn their lives around, increase public safety and create a stronger New York for all.”

The Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project will see Kids Oneida help youth in the Mohawk Valley who are under probation supervision, returning home after a juvenile delinquency placement, and 16- and 17-year-olds who are at risk of committing new crimes.

In addition to Montgomery County, the services provided through this initiative will supplement existing probation and re-entry services that are currently available in Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Otsego and Oswego counties.

According to the state, Kids Oneida serves families and youth who have social, emotional and behavioral challenges. The program additionally screens for trauma in youths involved with probation.

The grant funding will be used to develop a screening tool so probation departments in the six counties can identify youth who have experienced trauma so they can be connected with additional services for evaluation and treatment. At the same time, service providers also will be trained so they can better understand the impact that trauma has on youth development.

“The funding will support a variety of new initiatives, including training, the development of a trauma screening tool and staff. Kids Oneida recently hired a new reintegration coordinator who will work with youth in placement and their families to help ensure a successful transition back to their communities,” according to the news release. “The Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project also will allow the organization to assist youth and families by connecting them with a network of community-based programs, which will provide skill building, mentoring, family engagement, family skills training and family therapy to reduce recidivism and racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system.”

Congressman Paul Tonko said, “Youth recidivism is not an unbreakable pattern. Taking early steps to reconnect these young people with support systems in their community can help change the course of their lives. Congratulations to Kids Oneida for their leadership in helping young people in our region build job skills, find hope and get on a path to a better life.”