One thing we can all probably agree upon is that our kids are our future and that we must do everything we can to make a better life for all of them.
Most of our kids are pretty lucky, growing up in homes with the nurturing, love and discipline that it takes to make a strong adult. Not all kids are as lucky, and some, even with everything going for them, make mistakes and need a corrected course. Enter Porter County’s juvenile justice system.
I was talking with Porter Superior Court Judge Mary Harper the other day. She told me many things about our juvenile system that I wasn’t aware of. And most importantly, she told me that, in her opinion, our system works and is helping more than 500 Porter County kids each month.
What makes our juvenile system a model in the state? It starts with good leadership, and we have that in Juvenile Director Alison Cox, and Juvenile Justice Executive Director Amy Beier and Juvenile Probation Chief Chris Buyer.
The system is always looking for an alternative to lock up. The department conducts mental health screenings for juveniles and completes hundreds of home visits each month.
Porter County’s juvenile system also has an advisory board comprised of interested parents, community members, professionals who work in the system, and organizations like churches and those serving kids in the community, including the Boys and Girls Club. This advisory board provides invaluable feedback about programs that are working, needs of the youth, and information about what is going on in the community.
Most of us, thankfully, have not had a reason to interact with the juvenile justice system in Porter County. But for our kids who have, it is a lifeline. The reality is that, as Judge Harper puts it, “helps kids live long enough to grow up.”
Our world, even here in Porter County, continues to get more complicated and challenging for our kids to grow up in. Outside influences, economics, family and other social issues take their worst tolls on our kids.
They deserve every chance to grow up healthy, and we need them to become productive citizens in our communities. Porter County’s juvenile justice system is helping to give them that chance.