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politics

County Awarded $4M Grant For Partnership For Safe Youth Program

Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Rockland Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Leitzes, Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and Rockland BOCES chief operating officer Mary Jean Marsico announce a $4 million grant to help children and teens.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Rockland Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Leitzes, Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and Rockland BOCES chief operating officer Mary Jean Marsico announce a $4 million grant to help children and teens. Photo Credit: Jane Lerner

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Rockland County soon will be able to expand its efforts to keep young people out of the criminal justice system with the help of a $4 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know there is nothing more heartbreaking than to see a young person who has made a mistake enter into the system,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. “Often, that is the start of a life spent in courts and in prison – not at work and not at home with family. We want better.”

According to the grant, the county will use the money for an expansive training program in an effort to provide broader services to young people and their families to support their health/mental health, increase high school graduations, reduce hospitalizations, lower foster care placements and lessen the number of Rockland County youth involved with the juvenile/criminal justice system.

In 2013, Rockland County’s Multi-Agency Collaboration for Safe and Healthy Youth was started by District Attorney Thomas Zugibe to bring together the leadership of the Departments of Social Services, Probation, Mental Health and Rockland BOCES to identify and address the needs of children through the age of 21.

Under the program, youth with serious emotional disturbances, and their families, are delivered a "wraparound of services" by coordinating more effective information sharing and service delivery.

The grant award is a testament to the hard work of the county, its departments and its partners, including the district attorney and BOCES, Day said.

“This funding will allow the partnership and the broader Rockland County system of care to expand mental health and recovery support services to children and youth facing emotional and social challenges and their families," Zugibe said. "In less than two years, this collaboration has changed lives by keeping at-risk youth out of the criminal justice system, building strengths, promoting success, safety and permanency in home, school and the community. The infusion of $4 million will allow us to continue this critical mission for years to come.”

In June 2015, the program expanded with the formation of the Partnership For Safe Youth, a one-stop location at the Rockland BOCES Educational Resource Center on North Midland Avenue in Nyack for needs assessment, as well as school support, mental health and social services and juvenile justice-related services.

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