New Initiative to Keep Kids Out of Trouble

The statewide neighborhood initiative is bringing counseling, tutoring and more to high risk neighborhoods.

Crystal Mickens, a mother, says, "They walk up and down the streets all day and I think if there was more for them to do in the community, I think that'll give them, you know, more of something to do after school instead of trying to find something and get in trouble."

The Department of Juvenile Justice says kids who live in these zip codes are most at risk for run-ins with the law and rack up more than 1,500 arrests a year.

Policymakers say with this initiative they are trying to catch them before they fall with counseling, tutoring and more.

Kym Holcomb of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice says, "They're drinking, they're smoking, they're not going to school, they're being truant. If we can reach them when they're showing those types of behaviors we can prevent them from committing those crimes."

Sen. Mandy Dawson, (D) Fort Lauderdale, says, "A lot of the children we see have multiple problems and generally they're family problems, so if you just take the kid and send him to ‘juvie’ you've still got a problem."

The Florida Network has more than 150 counseling centers onboard statewide, including Capital City Youth Services and Mothers in Crisis in Tallahassee.

Rosalind Tompkins of Mothers in Crisis says, "Often times there's distrust of different organizations and people they may not know and so by us being a neighborhood center, they know us, they see us everyday and they pretty much trust us."

The Florida Network and the Department of Juvenile Justice are teaming up on this crime and delinquency prevention project. Florida Taxwatch estimates offering services like this is four times cheaper than locking a juvenile up.