Albany County officials recently received about $78,000 from the Wyoming Department of Health to fund the Albany County Juvenile Drug Court program as an attempt to address drug abuse in youth going through the juvenile court system.

Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said the drug court is unique compared to other similar programs because it is under the Albany County Juvenile Court and the Juvenile Service Board. Because the program is different than other drug courts, the Department of Health rejected the county’s request for six participants to test the program, she said.

“We were informed that we are going to be awarded money for four participants for the juvenile drug court,” Trent said. “The model we are proposing to the state is unique in how this drug court is set up, so we were authorized four participants as a test pilot on the program.”

According to the Wyoming Department of Health grant notification, the grant provides about $59,000 in funding for the four participants. The county is also receiving about $10,000 for startup costs associated with the program, about $1,100 for drug testing and about $8,000 to assist with accrediting expenses.

The juvenile drug court is a response to an increase of youth with controlled substances charges noticed by law enforcement agencies and the county court system in recent months, Trent said.

“We are seeing an increase among juveniles with marijuana abuse and other drugs,” she said. “That is why we wanted to immediately get a juvenile drug (court) set because we are beginning to see the affects of it among children and we want to make sure that we are getting those mechanisms in place early on.”

Unlike the county’s adult drug court, the juvenile program would be under the juvenile court system and state and local officials would interact with participants to provide them with treatment, Trent said. Because the program is new, how frequently officials should meet with the participants is not known.

“The difference is with the multidisciplinary team that is normally set up with a child through juvenile court,” she said. “We now are expanding that multidisciplinary team to include a treatment team of individuals (consisting of) a case-manager in addition to a Department of Family Services case-worker and other participants.”

She said along with providing assistance to juveniles, the program would also work with their families to address issues caused by the charges and provide ways for families to work through their issues to prevent this from happening again.

“When we have a child that is in need of treatment, the family needs support on how to handle it and support of how to work through the system and getting their child treatment,” Trent said. “Sometimes we see abuse of drugs also in the family along with abuse in the children, and we are all working together through their treatment.”

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