Governor Abbott, TJJD Announce Over $295,000 Grant To Uvalde County Juvenile Probation Department
(STL.News) Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) today announced that the State of Texas has awarded a $295,562 Discretionary State Aid Grant to the Uvalde County Juvenile Probation Department (UCJPD). This grant will fund a program for the UCJPD to provide services for at-risk youth exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems at school who need additional help beyond school-based interventions during fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
The Uvalde program will aim to fill in service gaps for mental health care and wraparound family resources. It will also work closely with schools to prevent youth from becoming involved in the justice system. Uvalde program staff will engage with public and private schools across the community and with school districts just outside the city. The program will set up preventative services, such as weekly sessions with families, and attendance check-ins with schools for the youth in the program.
“The future of Texas is rooted in our state’s most precious resource: our children,” said Governor Abbott. “Investing in our youth includes providing necessary resources they need to stay on a positive track to the bright opportunities ahead of them. Thank you to TJJD for your commitment to support at-risk youth across Texas and for your hard work in securing this Uvalde program that will help dozens of young Texans in this community.”
“A critical factor of this program is that it meets youth and family where they are—at school, home, or in an office setting,” said Uvalde Juvenile Probation Chief Marilou Ruiz. “We will use the wraparound care approach focused on the youth and family, with support throughout their three-to-four-month program involvement based on their level of risk and meeting their needs with the appropriate level of care.”
“This is a community program that can help kids early and close to home, to prevent crime and prevent youths from falling into the justice system,” said TJJD Probation, Parole, and Community Service Division Probation Director Amy Miller. “TJJD’s Probation Division regularly assesses and awards targeted state-funded grants to Juvenile Probation Departments across Texas to help strengthen capacity at the local level.”
The Uvalde program, which is expected to serve 45 young Texans each year, will help youth avoid behaviors that can lead to out of home placements through cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and working with families to reach youth early. It will also provide community-based counseling, skill building, and case coordination to youth on probation and those at risk of juvenile justice involvement due to truancy and behavioral problems at school or have siblings already involved in the justice system.
Governor Abbott has taken significant action to provide all available resources to support the Uvalde community following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School. Those actions include:
- Initiating the State of Texas’ comprehensive plan to assist and support members of the community, including co-locating state agency representatives to the Family Assistance Center for on-hand assistance in finding benefits.
- Investing an initial $5 million to establish a long-term Family Resiliency Center in Uvalde County to serve as a hub for community services, including access to critical mental health resources.
- Providing $1.25 million to Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District for trauma-informed counseling, crisis intervention, and community outreach.
- Working with the OneStar Foundation to create a one-stop webpage for donations to support the victims’ families, teachers, and the Uvalde community.
- Directing the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to ensure all children in Uvalde have access to behavioral health resources and community support.
- Providing $105.5 million to enhance school safety and mental health services in Uvalde and throughout Texas.
- Issuing a disaster declaration to accelerate all available state and local resources to assist the Uvalde community.
- Requesting Texas legislative leaders convene special legislative committees to begin examining and developing legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.
- Directing the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to begin immediately conducting comprehensive school safety reviews to ensure all Texas public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety.
- Directing the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide strategies to make Texas public schools safer through heightened safety standards.
- Instructing the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) programs to provide training to all school districts across the state, prioritizing school-based law enforcement.
- Directing TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to expand and accelerate the ability to report suspicious activity through the iWatchTexas reporting system.
- Promoting awareness of iWatchTexas through a public safety announcement featuring “Walker, Texas Ranger” Chuck Norris.
- Directing TEA to create a new Chief of School Safety and Security position within the agency.
Urging the Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) to increase lie-and-try prosecutions of people who lie on information provided for gun background checks.
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