SARASOTA, FL – The Here4YOUth Initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation have awarded JFCS of the Suncoast a $50,000 grant for the expansion of the Adolescent Diversion and Assistance Program (ADAP).
ADAP provides prevention and intervention services to Sarasota County residents ages 11 to 17 who have been charged with a crime or are at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system. Educational courses help guide youth who have been involved in theft, violence, criminal mischief, substance abuse, gangs, and bullying, and teach them better coping skills, anger management, and social skills to reduce the risk of repetitive destructive behaviors. ADAP is offered at an affordable rate to families needing support.
Currently, ADAP is staffed by a program director who works with 60 children and teens a year. With the support from the Here4YOUth Initiative, JFCS will add a second therapist and hopes to double its reach to 120 children and teens each year.
“Here4YOUth is proud to partner with JFCS to provide resources and support to young people as soon as they experience challenges. JFCS is successfully assisting teens to overcome behavioral challenges and pursue their goals, while avoiding future criminal justice involvement,” said Jennifer Johnston, Director of Community Leadership with Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “There is high demand for this service in our community, and we’re delighted to be able to help JFCS serve students on the waiting list.”
According to the Sarasota County Department of Juvenile Justice, there is a higher percentage of youth offenders in the county than statewide:
- Drug use: 58% in Sarasota vs. 48% statewide
- Association with anti-social peers: Sarasota 86% vs. 76% statewide
- Problems with drugs: 22% in Sarasota vs. 14% statewide
- Traumatic experiences with neglect: 60% in Sarasota vs. 55% statewide
- Witness to violence: 57% in Sarasota vs. 51% statewide
ADAP is critical in helping troubled youth have a better future since the likelihood of reoffending increases as youths are further processed into the juvenile justice system. The program has a 76% successful completion rate and only 6% of participants reoffended six months after successfully completing it.
In order to expand its reach, JFCS is seeking a therapist with a master’s degree in social work and a focus on youth. The agency hopes to hire and train the new employee this summer so that he or she is ready to work with students once the new school year begins this fall. Referrals to the program are provided by many sources, including Juvenile Probation Officers, School Resource Officers, and Bays Florida Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program (JDAP).
About JFCS: One of the Florida Suncoast’s leading mental health and human services agencies, JFCS delivers programs and services on a non-denominational basis and with the goal of empowering individuals toward well-being and self-reliance. Inspired by the Jewish tradition of helping all people, JFCS of the Suncoast believes all people are to be treated with dignity and respect and have equal opportunity for physical and mental well-being, self-expression, and joy. For more information, visit https://JFCS-Cares.org/ or call (941) 366-2224.
About Gulf Coast Community Foundation: For more than 25 years, together with our donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has transformed our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital. Since then, we have become the philanthropic home of over 950 families, individuals, businesses, and organizations that have established charitable funds here. Together, we have invested over $460 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at GulfCoastCF.org.