State Continues to Cut Local Funding for Juvenile Diversion | Local

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The Nebraska legislature continued to cut funding available for juvenile community service programs such as Platte County Juvenile Services / Diversion.

Teri Schuller, who heads the Platte County program, said he sees around 150 young people a year. Diversion works with dozens of entities to provide programs and support to young offenders and their families. The aim of the program is to educate and rehabilitate these young people, giving them a chance to succeed and to make a difference before they get worse.

“Any low to medium risk child is a good candidate to enroll, participate and be successful (the program),” Platte County District Attorney Carl Hart said in a Dec. 29 email to the Telegram. “Our county juvenile diversion officers do a great job with these children, most of whom have never had a problem before.”

The Platte County juvenile diversion program is largely funded by the state of Nebraska. The most recent legislature cut means the Platte County program – and other juvenile services programs across Nebraska – will receive less money before fiscal year (FY) 2023, which begins July 1 2022 and will end on June 30, 2023.

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“We will get $ 103,782 (in fiscal year 2023),” Schuller said.

The Nebraska Legislature appropriates funding for juvenile services, and the Nebraska Crime Commission uses a formula to allocate these funds to various programs.

“We can’t ask (for a certain amount), they tell us how much, depending on the number of children and the level of poverty,” Schuller said. “This is how they determine what each of us will get.”

Once the allocations for each program have been determined, Schuller’s office must file an application requesting the allocated funds to Platte County.

For Platte County, the reduction in funding from FY2022 to FY2023 is much larger than what was anticipated before the legislature completed its biennial budgeting process in early 2021.

“The application for assistance to community services for minors (fiscal year 2022) provided for a credit of $ 6,048,000 (statewide) … and used that amount to determine formula allowances,” a document from A July 29, 2021 meeting of the Nebraska Children’s, said the Commission’s juvenile services committee.

However, at the start of 2021, lawmakers allocated $ 5.8 million for fiscal 2022, instead of the expected $ 6.05 million. This came months after the programs had already submitted funding requests for FY2022, anticipating allocations based on the figure of $ 6.05 million.

With only a few months remaining until the start of fiscal 2022, the Crime Commission made up for the $ 250,000 budget cut by reducing allocations for programs that have historically returned a significant portion of unused funds. Platte County was not part of these programs and still received the $ 108,000 originally planned for fiscal 2022.

However, with the expectation that the actual appropriation for FY2023 is the same as for FY2022 – $ 5.8 million – and with more time to plan accordingly, the Crime Commission said the Platte County would be eligible for around $ 103,000 in fiscal year 2023, as Schuller said.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Contact her by email at [email protected]


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