Judge seeks grant for teen drug treatment

COVINGTON -- Juvenile Court Judge Sheri Roberts has successfully petitioned the Board of Commissioners for permission to apply for a grant to expand treatment services for juvenile offenders with substance abuse problems.

The $325,000, three-year grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration requires no matching funds from the county. If approved, the money would expand the Juvenile Treatment Drug Court capacity by providing transportation and better access to free rehabilitation services for teens with drug and alcohol addictions.

Newton County Drug Court already includes group and individual counseling, family education, case management, behavioral aides and drug screens. But juveniles who have no insurance or the "wrong" insurance often don't get the treatment they need, Roberts recently told the BOC.

In 2009, Drug Court encountered 188 children with drug charges, but only about 9 percent were treated for their substance abuse problems because of limited funds, Roberts said. She is hoping the grant would expand that treatment capability to about 50 kids, or 20 to 30 percent of the juveniles who face drug charges. Typically, those are males between the ages of 13 and 17, she said.

"This would exclude anyone who is dealing. It's geared to treat users," she said.

Juveniles who successfully complete the program have their records expunged.