FamilyTRACS Revolutionizes Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Services

Article excerpt

Clark County, Nev., is like few other counties in the nation. Despite the economic slow-down, it continues to experience historic growth in new business, population and its already strong economy. As a result of this growth, Clark County has become a melting pot of cultural and economic diversity. With more than 5,600 new residents moving into the community each month, the county continues to break records and set new trends.

Clark County offers a wide array of social services to meet the diverse needs of its residents. The Department of Juvenile Justice Services and the Department of Family Services provide programs aimed at supplying basic needs, promoting safety, improving self-sufficiency and increasing skill levels in a variety of areas.

Department of Juvenile Justice Services

The Department of Juvenile Justice Services' booking unit provides 24-hour service, seven days a week. Its intake unit operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Five neighborhood community centers, which provide a variety of services designed to hold delinquent youths accountable for their actions while developing their competency and protecting the community, are located throughout the Las Vegas valley. More than 24,000 arrests and citations were processed in 2001, resulting in more than 2,500 juveniles being placed under the supervision of the Probation Division. In 2001, approximately $152,000 in restitution was paid to victims through the victim witness program. The Detention Division is the department's 24-hour temporary delinquent holding facility, with a maximum bed capacity for 235 youths. The department's Spring Mountain Youth Camp is a long-term correctional facility that houses male youths ages 12 to 18 who have been found guilty of felony acts by a juvenile court judge. The camp, located near Mount Charleston, has a capacity of 100 youths. The youth camp also operates a 12-bed community-based transitional center in Las Vegas proper for youths ages 12 to 18 re-entering the community from correctional placement and probation.

Department of Family Services

The Department of Family Services' intake unit receives reports of child abuse and neglect, assesses the information and determines the appropriate action to be taken. In 2001, more than 8,400 reports were made to the unit, with more than 7,400 investigations conducted. Child Protective Services investigates allegations of child mistreatment, assesses risks and service needs, and determines the degree of appropriate response. Child Haven, a short-term shelter for neglected, abused and/or abandoned children, provides for children's physical, emotional, educational, social and recreational needs while creating a homelike atmosphere. More than 3,000 children are admitted annually; on any given day, more than 124 children are in residence. Child Haven has an active volunteer program consisting of more than 700 volunteers who spent 7,079 hours with the children on campus last year.

The Psychological Services Unit, used by both the Department of Family Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice Services, provides court-ordered psychological assessments, crisis and suicide evaluations, and counseling to youths housed in the facilities and residing with their families.

Project 2000

In 1995, under director Kirby Burgess, both departments realized that with a work force that was not growing in proportion to the growth in the county, services and expectations could no longer continue at their current levels. In an effort to improve the services provided to Clark County families, the management team developed a mission statement to become "a bold and innovative leader, assuring the provision of exemplary child welfare and juvenile justice services, achieving child and community protection, and strengthening families."

Project 2000 was initially conceived to study the departments and to develop new ideas that would improve and streamline service delivery. …