Juvenile Court awarded grant

COVINGTON - The Newton County Juvenile Court recently received some extraordinary good news. They were selected as one of two courts in the state to be awarded a $75,000 grant from the Governor's Office for Children and Families. The funds are earmarked to create a daytime reporting Center for Learning Alternatives for Suspended Students.

"We're hoping this will give them some positive reinforcement with academic studies so when their suspension is over, they will be able to re-enter school and succeed," said Diana Summers, research analyst for the court.

The first-of-its-kind program in Newton County will provide supervision, tutoring and counseling for suspended middle school students for a semester. It will also emphasize good behavior while teaching accountability.

"(The session) will be 18 weeks and will run concurrently with the school calendar," Summers said, adding that it will be court-mandated for at-risk students.

CLASS will be limited to 10 boys per semester and will be held in the facility that now houses the court's Evening Reporting Center. Summers declined to say exactly where that is.

She said presently CLASS is funded for two semesters per year, but the court hopes to expand it in the future to include a summer session.

"We have the potential of continuing the grant and will be able to reapply," she said. "Depending on our program's success, we'll be able to demonstrate the need in this area."

She said the Juvenile Court and Newton County schools would work together in identifying those students who would most benefit from the program, which in addition to academics will include instruction on life skills.

"Many times they don't have the same experience that others might have ... (it will include) things like money management, how to prepare a nutritious meal and making healthy choices," she said.

Summers said sessions would take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with lunch and afternoon transportation provided.

According to Jen Bennecke, executive director of the Governor's Office for Children and Families, the other community to receive the grant was Paulding County and the funds were distributed from a federal grant received by the state.

"These funds are intended for juvenile delinquency programs," Bennecke said. "Enabling students to be successful in school is one of the most efficient ways to prevent juvenile delinquency and crime. We're excited about the aggressive approach Newton County is taking to address this issue."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.