JFCS of Suncoast receives $50,000 grant from Here4YOUth Initiative of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

Funds to support Adolescent Diversion and Assistance Program

This is one of the banners on the website of the JFCS of the Suncoast. Image courtesy of the nonprofit

The Here4YOUth Initiative of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the 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), JFCS of the Suncoast has announced.

“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,” a news release explains. “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,” the release adds.

An ADAP program director works with 60 children and teens a year, the release notes. “With the support from the Here4YOUth Initiative,” the release points out, “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,” said Jennifer Johnston, director of community leadership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in the release. “There is high demand for this service in our community,” she added in the release, “and we’re delighted to be able to help JFCS serve students on the waiting list.”

The Sarasota County Department of Juvenile Justice says the county has a higher percentage of youth offenders than the state does, as illustrated by the following statistics, the release notes:

  • Drug use: 58% in Sarasota compared to 48% statewide.
  • Association with anti-social peers: Sarasota, 86%; statewide, 76%.
  • Problems with drugs: 22% in Sarasota; 14%, statewide.
  • Traumatic experiences with neglect: 60% in Sarasota; 55% statewide.
  • Witness to violence: 57% in Sarasota; 51%, statewide.

“ADAP is critical in helping troubled youth have a better future,” the release emphasizes, since the likelihood that young people will commit new offenses increases as they move further into the juvenile justice system. The program has a 76% successful completion rate, the release adds; only 6% of participants committed new offenses six months after successfully completing it.

“To expand its reach, JFCS is seeking a therapist with a master’s degree in social work and a focus on youth,” the release explains. Agency leaders hope “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,” the release says. “Referrals to the program are provided by many sources, including Juvenile Probation Officers, School Resource Officers, and Bays Florida Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program (JDAP),” the release adds.

“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,” the release points out. “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,” the release notes.

For more information, visit https://jfcs-cares.org/ or call 941-366-2224.