Proposed law aims to help at risk kids in East Baton Rouge Parish

Photo provided by staff.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 9:39am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 9:51am

This legislative session lawmakers could tackle the issue of stopping truancy in East Baton Rouge Parish. State Senator Sharon Weston Broome, (D) Baton Rouge, authored a bill to create "Nineteenth Judicial District Attorney Early Intervention Fund." Money from the fund would be used to help programs that aim to keep kids in class and out of trouble.

"The bill would amend the children's code to add East Baton Rouge Parish to the other parishes that have the ability to get funding from defendants who are convicted in criminal matters," Broome said.

The Sixteenth Judicial District, which covers St. Mary, St. Martin and Iberia parishes already have a early intervention fund in place. The new law would add East Baton Rouge to that list.

Roxson Welch runs the Family and Youth Service Center in Baton Rouge, she said truancy is a big problem in the parish.

"It's huge as a teacher I knew the problem was bad. I never realized how bad. We see the kids and one on one these kids are great kids, but they've lost their future because of years years of lack of education," Welch said.

She she supports the new bill and the creation of the early intervention fund.

"The big picture the purpose for addressing truancy is to give (is to give kids) options, because, over all what we're really doing is addressing juvenile crime by giving kids options...," Welch said. "Through education then they've got another way of life. "

The goal is to help at risk kids and families.

"See them on this end, identify, correct ,case manage, and hopefully we won't see them on the other end," Jennie Ponder, program director for the Truancy Assessment and Service Center, said.

Ponder said the fund would help bring more money for more services to help stop truancy.

"You could have more counselors, more wrap-around services that would really engage the child and family," Ponder said.

Legislative session begins March 10.

For more information on the proposed law click here.

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