More grant money to juvenile court expands therapy for teens and parents before doing jail time

RICHMOND CO.(WJBF)- - A state grant is making it easier to provide therapy for young people who break the law.

The program is called, "MST" or Multisystemic therapy.

It's the last stop for a teen offender before he or she ends up behind bars and the program has recently expanded.

"They actually go into the home, talk to the family...it's a total family deal. Sometimes, the therapist goes to the school," said Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan.

This style of "at home treatment" by the therapist works in several ways to keep kids out of the system.

"Right now, the court is serving over 1,400 children in Richmond County-  our foster care has more than 450 children," said Staff Attorney DaCara Brown.

"They can tweak the therapy based upon the home situation. They can see when they're in the home, if there are there other things that need to be done to help this child," said Flanagan.

Flanagan says MST also lowers the chance that a teen becomes a repeat offender.

"How much does it cost to keep a juvenile in the system," asked NewsChannel 6's Ashley Campbell.

"About $90,000 a year," replied Flanagan.

"Taxpayer money," asked Campbell.

"Taxpayer money," replied Flanagan.

Juvenile Court received a $400,000 dollar grant this year to help fund the program.

That extra $1,000 will also fund a second form of group therapy called Aggression Replacement Therapy.

"That therapy allows our children to be in a group setting and they act out various scenarios. There's a therapist there to guide them through that anger and other issues they may have," said Brown.

They are two systemic therapy methods that the court has in hopes of creating a dent in juvenile crime by treating delinquent behavior outside the courtroom.

These two programs only apply to juvenile offenders who are ages 11 and older.

Flanagan says he's hoping to get another grant to reach out to younger children.

Flanagan says the need to counsel children is growing, especially in Richmond County.

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