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Juvenile program won't move to bigger space

Oct 16, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Repairing the house proposed for the project, and renovating it to meet standards for use as a school, would cost more than the program's budget could afford.

A day reporting center for Fremont County's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative will stay at its current location at the Riverton Group Home. Officials had been looking at a house the county acquired in 2011 as a space for the youth program.

Repairing the house on the Major property in Riverton and renovating it to meet standards for use as a school would cost more than the program's budget could afford, said Melinda Cox, director of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, at the Fremont County Commission meeting Oct. 1.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative began in 2012 after the county closed the juvenile wing of its detention center. The new program provides county services and an alternative school to youths who are involved in the court and have been expelled from their schools.

Current space OK

Cox said the Riverton group home, which currently houses the day reporting center, is adequate and has advantages.

One major benefit is that the group home already has a program established to prepare and provide food, and it is set up for reimbursement from the federal government.

If the day reporting center moved out on its own, it would have to establish its own food service.

One reason the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative looked at a new location was to have more space. The house on the Major property would have had room for 18 to 24 students, Cox said.

Only 10 youths can use the current room in the group home, and that space is filling fast.

"We have seven kids, soon to have nine," Cox said.

She thinks there is a simple answer, however. The facility's staff and Cox are looking at remodeling the space and using another one in the building to make room for 16 students.

Partner potential

Partnering with the group home could bring even more benefits in the future, she indicated.

"The group home director is looking at another space that would meet their needs and ours," Cox said. "The flood gates would be open -- we could take as many kids as we wanted."

The county board also discussed purchasing a vehicle for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives program.

The program often has to transport six youths, more than most cars can handle. Cox said the Wind River Transit Authority's fixed routes are not convenient for the students, and paying the bus company to run a special route costs too much.

With the $8,000 she would save from not renovating, Cox is looking at purchasing a van. Commissioner Travis Becker suggested she look at obtaining certification to drive an 18-passenger van the county owns already and to investigate using the county's capital revolving fund, the mechanism for purchasing equipment and vehicles costing more than $10,000.

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