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News Release    

October 9, 2007      

For Further Information Contact:
William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
(845) 486-2000

Dutchess Earns $946,000 Grant to Assist At-Risk Youth

Poughkeepsie…  Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced the Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Corrections has secured $946,000 from the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives to implement the five year Juvenile Risk Intervention Services Coordination (J-RISC) program. The effort is to reduce recidivism in youth age 11-18.

“This is great news.  It recognizes our county-wide, criminal justice process is working well, based on incorporating evidence based practices and using risk assessment tools with a long term focus on reducing recidivism for youth as well as adults. When the Criminal Justice Council was initiated in 1993, I envisioned our collaborative efforts as a way to improve public safety ensure cost effectiveness and enhance the criminal justice system’s effectiveness.  This is just another example of  Dutchess County being a state leader with proven strategies,” said County Executive Steinhaus.

The goal of the Juvenile Risk Intervention Services Coordination (J-RISC) project is to reduce risk and increase positive outcomes for high risk youth and their families. The County will institute Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a blueprints Model Program targeted to youth aged 11-18.   Research indicates this method of therapy can reduce recidivism between 25% and 60%. The County will receive an annual award of up to $179,212 for each of 5 years which will allow 50 or more families to participate in the program annually.   Additionally, the County will receive $50,000 in 2008 for training and related start up costs.

Office of Probation and Community Services Director Mary Ellen Still cites a 2006 Washington State Institute for Public Policy report describing Functional Family Therapy as an effective and practical program to reduce crime and jail time. The Report states the fiscal benefits for crime victims and taxpayers are approximately $31,000. “When you consider that the cost of out-of-home placement is in the range of $133 to over $400 a day per youth, this a strong reason to implement this program,” Steinhaus noted.

The New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives established a highly competitive process for the funding selections.  Applicants were required to demonstrate use of evidence-based programming, history of successful collaborative efforts and data collection that substantiates outcomes.  Based on a proven track record of success, Dutchess County is one of only 7 counties selected in New York to receive this funding. 

The Office of Probation and Community Corrections has also successfully collaborated with the Astor Home for Children and the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene for the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Project.   The project is now its 5th year and has been nationally recognized for significant achievement of meaningful outcomes.    The new J-RISC program will incorporate many of the same effective strategies of the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Project. Dutchess County Probation will lead the program in collaboration with The Astor Home for Children.  A therapist trained in the FFT model will work in partnership with a probation officer and a probation case manager aide with youth identified as high risk. 

James McGuirk, PhD, Executive Director of The Astor Home for Children said, “We are thrilled to be able to expand our partnership with County Executive Steinhaus and Dutchess County Government.  With the grant, we will be able to add Functional Family Therapy to our ever increasing repertoire of evidence based practices.  We believe we will be able to make a significant positive impact on some very troubled kids and their families.”  

“We are focused on enhancing our juvenile alternatives programs to serve youth in the community with better youth outcomes and to avoid out-of-home placement costs. If we can keep youth from further involvement in the criminal justice system, we know they will be less likely to be involved in the adult criminal justice system,” said County Executive Steinhaus.  “We will be increasing our capacity to provide proven, effective services for our at-risk youth, and as a result, risks of future delinquency and crime, detention, placement and incarceration all will be reduced.  Importantly, we will also save taxpayer money by avoiding future costs,” he concluded.


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Last Updated: 10/9/2007