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Juvenile Court awarded grant to provide in-home therapy
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The Rockdale County Juvenile Court was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to help provide therapy for the whole family in the homes of juvenile offenders. 

The grant will fund the Functional Family Therapy Program, an evidence-based program that assesses the risk and protective factors that impact juvenile offenders in their environment. 

The FFT program, which is designed to reduce recidivism in offenders, assigns a therapist to work inside the home with the juveniles and their families. The in-home therapy looks at factors inside among the family members and outside the home and the impact they have on the juvenile’s progression in therapy. On average, the program consists of 12 sessions over a 3-4 month period.

The funding is a result of the 2011 study conducted by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, to evaluate the funding in Georgia’s criminal system. This Council recommended a revision of the Juvenile Code and alternatives to detaining low to medium risk youth in secure detention facilities, and estimated following the recommendations would save the State more than $88 million through 2018. The Council also recommended that a portion of those savings be invested in a voluntary grant program to support local, evidence-based programs that are proven to reduce recidivism. Rockdale is one of several Georgia counties that applied and received funding.

Rockdale County Juvenile Court will be using all of the grant funds to serve 31 court involved youth and their families. Juveniles and families referred to FFT will begin receiving services Oct. 1.

The court will also receive technical assistance to track the data and show the outcomes of services. The court must show a 15 percent reduction in felony commitments and Short Term Placements as well as a 60 percent FFT completion rate in order to be considered for future funding. 

As a forerunner to this program, Rockdale County Juvenile Court has implemented multiple evidence-based programs at the Evening Reporting Center. The court can now offer FFT along with other court programming already in place to ensure that each participant gets the most effective services for their case.