Opinion: Help earn funding for YAP


Commentary by Mayor Andy Cook

Can you imagine a Hamilton County that is known for having the lowest level of juvenile court involvement, per capita, in the country? Well, it’s happening. In Hamilton County. Now.

The Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program is now operating in all of the county school districts. Teachers, counselors and police identify children “at risk”, that is, something may be wrong. If the family chooses to take advantage of the program (more than 70 percent do so), the child and family are evaluated by an Early Intervention Advocate. The EIA then draws upon a large array of services available for the child or family, such as drug and alcohol counseling, anger management, financial assistance and counseling.

The program began in Westfield some six years ago. Since that time, close to 800 families have been referred to YAP. In the year 2009, the Hamilton County Juvenile system processed 1,616 children. In 2014, that number dropped to 935. Our juvenile population has exploded in that we now have in the county three out of the top 10 highest school district populations in the state.

Presently, the cost of the professional EIA is being funded by a mishmash of city, school and gifts. Our county council and county commissioners are considering a one-year grant to fund the professional EIAs. It is our desire that permanent funding come from the county by moving the huge savings realized from the decrease in legal cases processed to the prevention program. The cost of the county today to provide full juvenile detentions services can be $400 per day. Youth Assistance costs about $10 per day.

Ninety percent of the youth that have received YAP services have not gone on to have an encounter with the law.

How can you help? The services provided to our children come from the community. Please help us continue our success by writing to your county commissioners and councilors, urging their financial support of the professional EIAs. Contact information can be found at www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/directory.aspx.