Cochise County youth services face funding challenges - Tucson News Now

Cochise County youth services face funding challenges

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Cochise County Juvenile Court Services is to keep their youth out of the detention center with the help of prevention services.  But funding for the alternative programs and shelters for those youth at risk continues to be threatened.

The typical age here in the Cochise County Juvenile Detention Center is 12 and above. Only those who are threats to others or themselves end up there. An outside service, the Cochise County Children's Center, will take those at-risk youth who might need help with a situation at home, or time in a structured environment with goal setting and life skills, and set them on a new path.

Funding for outside services has been cut by state and federal governments. Open Inn, which runs the Children's Center, is now trying to coordinate with other agencies to take over the Children's Center instead of shutting it down and sending us outside the county.

"We just feel our infrastructure has been kind of cut so much that we're just not able to do that.  But we are trying to partner with other agencies and work together to make sure that we don't close our doors, that our services remain open and that the kids in our community still have a safe place to go," said Kim Tellez, interim executive director of Open Inn, the parent nonprofit for the Cochise County Children's Center.

The end of such a program could be considered "a nightmare" by the director of juvenile court services.

"The worst possible scenario would be that we end up transporting our local children from Cochise County perhaps to Pima if they have the space allotted," said Delcy Scull, director of Cochise County Juvenile Court Services.

The detention center used to have as many as twenty six within its walls three and a half years ago. Since it started using alternative services, that number has dropped to ten or twelve.

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