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Fewer Juveniles Means Fewer Teachers At JDC

February 9, 2012, 6:03 PM by Nicole Winters

Fewer Juveniles Means Fewer Teachers At JDC
SIOUX FALLS, SD - An initiative in Minnehaha County is reducing the number of juveniles being placed in secure custody. The big drop in numbers this year also means fewer teachers are needed at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Learning doesn't happen in a typical classroom setting for students in a Juvenile Detention Center.

"The teachers are there to give the youth the education that they need while they're there and to kind of communicate with their home school as well so they don't get too far behind," Erin Srstka said.

Students learn in an independent study fashion with the help of teachers from the Sioux Falls School District.

"State law requires that if there's a program within your district that serves children who are being placed outside of their district, you have to provide that programming," Sue Simons said.

This year, fewer teachers are teaching inside the JDC facility because of a drop in juveniles being securely detained due to the JDAI initiative in Minnehaha County.

"So far we've seen some really positive results.  We have seen safe reduction on reliance on secure detention," Srstka said.

The initiative offers other options to keep low-risk youth out of secure detention.  About half as many kids are housed at JDC now than at this time last year. Because of that, the Sioux Falls School District moved some teachers around.

"We took a look at the program and in fact, it gave us an opportunity.  As you know, we seek to educate and prepare each child to succeed in a changing world.  So when those teachers were moved, we were able to create a program that utilized their skills and created yet another pathway for students that needed them," Simons said.

The hope with the initiative is to continue giving juveniles that chance to succeed.

"We hope to have our programs grow, become sustainable, become stable, become- demonstrate positive results in our community," Srstka said.

A new program is starting as part of the JDAI initiative in February, which will connect low-risk youth with resources in the community to help them succeed.

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