SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A local organization dedicated to helping local at-risk youth is celebrating a major milestone.
The Front Porch Center for Youth marked its first anniversary with a celebration at its headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.
Community leaders involved with the project as well as local families and youth attended the event to mark the special occasion.
The multi-agency resource center and community-based risk reduction program says that over the past year, they have assisted over 250 at-risk Savannah-area youth.
The program works in collaboration with Chatham County and Juvenile Court judges to offer support and social services to families, without the need for getting involved with the juvenile justice system.
“They refer children and families to necessary services, behavioral health, educational interventions, pro-social activities, housing, anything that a young person and their families need in order for a young person to be successful,” said Chatham County Juvenile Judge Lisa Colbert.
“I’m here because I know this is a needed intervention to help young people and their families before someone is victimized or before things get to the point that they may have to go into foster care,” Colbert told News 3.
She added that she’s thrilled that she and others involved in getting the project off the ground over the past three years, including local leaders, policymakers and nonprofits, came together to do what they felt is best for youth and their families.
Colbert said Juvenile Court data showed that for many people who are referred to the court after victimizing someone, they often have pre-existing issues that needed to be addressed years before they set foot in court.
“Things like educational failures, mental health issues, housing, insecurity with food, they just needed help,” she said.
With the way the system was structured in the past, she told News 3, a young person had to get in trouble before getting the help that they needed.
“We see this as an opportunity for young people and their families to get needed interventions before someone has been victimized,” she said.
In the future, she hopes The Front Porch can keep expanding its resources and staffing to continue the mission to help young people and families that need assistance with staying on the right path.
“Children can walk in themselves and ask for help, this doesn’t have to be a formal referral process.,” Colbert said. “Agencies can refer, but the children and families can just walk in the door, and many of them have, and just say, ‘I need help.’”