County municipalities, others pitch in to support juvenile probation office

Eight county agencies, including five municipalities, pitched in this year with $93,821 to support Blount County juvenile probation office (JPO) salaries and services. Two positions were placed in jeopardy last year when the state Administrative Office of Courts (AOC) eliminated funding for half of the four jobs authorized in the state budget for the Blount County office. A similar successful effort, involving a somewhat different lineup of agencies, was made to keep the jobs last year.

As was the case last year, the Blount County Health Care Authority provided $46,978 to fund one position, while the other agencies combined to fund the remaining job.

The Blount County Board of Education, a major beneficiary of juvenile probation services, joined contributors this year with an allocation of $7,843. The Blount County Commission again stepped up to pledge an unbudgeted $15,000, the balance required to save the remaining position after other agencies checked in with their pledges.

Municipalities that participated in the county-wide rescue effort were as follows:

Oneonta: $10,000
Hayden 5,000
Locust Fork 5,000
Cleveland 3,000
Snead 1,000

“I know it’s tough to swallow that federal and state authorities are pushing these costs back on the counties,” District Judge Sherry Burns said in making her appeal for assistance to the county commission in August. “But if we don’t pick them up, who’s going to suffer? The federal government? No. The people that will suffer will be the children and their parents in this county.” Burns coordinated the fund-raising drive among county entities.

Burns noted in August that JPO handled 832 cases in the county in 2011, and had handled 627 cases through July in 2012, indicating a substantial increase in workload this year.

Services provided by juvenile probation

•probation supervision
•on-call duty, 365 days, 24/7
•Hope House intensive outpatient drug referral
•early warning truancy program
•court responsibility
•mental health counseling referral
•juvenile facility placement
•other social service agency interface
•parenting classes
•life skills referral/materials