Mt. Vernon Register-News

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September 3, 2009

Kids, Courts and Schools Conference looks at ways to help at-risk youth

By TESA CULLI

tesa.culli@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — As cuts in funding may have reduced the money for programs that help at-risk youth, what didn’t get reduced are the number of youth that need intervention and the programs.

The 16th Annual Kids, Courts and Schools Conference will target ways to prevent juvenile delinquency and ways to help troubled teens become responsible adults. The conference will be held Oct. 1 at Rend Lake Resort & Conference Center at the Wayne Fitzgerald Park in Whittington.

“This year we brought in the 1st and 4th Judicial circuits, instead of just the 2nd Judicial Circuit,” Working Group member Mindy Koch said. “We wanted to expand the area where we are touching with the conference and have more opportunities to learn from them and they can learn from us about what works with our youth.”

Another change to the conference this year is there will be no keynote speaker.

“By eliminating the keynote speaker, we could have four more breakout sessions,” Koch explained. “We also create time for a collaboration meeting.”

Koch said one thing on everyone’s mind, which may be discussed in the collaboration meeting is program funding.

“There is a move for even more community-based alternatives because of funding problems,” Koch said. “Funding is a big issue right now and how to get the programs to those who need it with fewer dollars.”

According to information on the conference, judges and school administrators from the 29 counties in the 1st, 2nd and 4th Judicial Circuits have been invited to attend and other participants will include state’s attorneys, public defenders, prevention and treatment specialists, child welfare workers, foster parents and others. Discussions will include current issues and how to prevent youth problems and deal with problems once they occur.

“This annual conference has helped open the lines of communications between professionals in the classroom and those working in our courtrooms,” Bryan Cross, regional superintendent of schools for Hamilton and Jefferson counties stated. “We’ll get advice from experts and exchange information about ways our communities are responding to youth problems.”

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