Court Program Aims to Change the Direction of Children’s Lives
(News & Record) Guilford County this week launched a pilot program to help young children who end up in contact with the courts because of abuse, neglect or dependency. The Juvenile Court Infant Toddler Initiative is modeled after a 10-year-old Florida program. In that program, 86 percent of families got their children back, said Guilford County District Court Judge Sherry Alloway. Of those, none returned to the system, she said. “These are some of the things we want,” Alloway said. The $500,000 funding for the three-year pilot comes from the Bryan, Cemala, Ellison and Weaver foundations. The program will focus on the child, making sure services are provided to track and promote healthy development, said Chief District Court Judge Joseph E. Turner. Guilford has the resources to work with these children, but there has been no coordination or follow-up, Turner said. He believes this program can provide that. UNCG’s Center for Youth, Family & Community Partnerships will evaluate the program, provide training and track data, director Chris Payne said. “I think we really can change the system and make a difference,” she said. Changing the lives of children is “the whole purpose of juvenile court,” Turner said. Unfortunately, when children end up in juvenile court, it often is too late to have a lasting impact or any at all, according to Turner. Judges said they see the children of children who already have come through their courts. “If we can help these children, then they’re not going to become the parents of the next generation,” Turner said.