A collaboration between Tooele County, the state Division of Juvenile Justice service, and the Tooele School District will soon bring a new service for youth and families to Tooele City’s Main Street.
The state Division of Juvenile Justice Services held an open house at the Tooele County Youth Services Center at 31 S. Main Street in Tooele City on Wednesday.
The center is located in the south side of what is known as the Mantes building, north of the Tooele County Building on the east side of Main Street.
“This is an effort to keep youth in their home, school, and community by providing services on the front end,” said Donovan Bergstrom, program director for the DJJS Office of Youth Services.
The concept is to provide treatment, education, and services that will keep youth out of the social services and justice system, Bergstrom said.
The doors of the center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Law enforcement officers may drop off youth they have picked up for various reasons, but can’t be taken home. Parents can bring youth to the center that they are struggling with at home. Schools can send students to the center when their behavior becomes so unmanageable they can’t stay at their school. Youth can walk into the center on their own.
The center is not a lockdown facility, youth are free to leave, according to Bergstrom.
Staff from the center will be on call after 8 p.m. and a law enforcement officer can call to make arrangements to drop off a youth they have picked up in the evening that can’t be returned to their home.
The target population for services is youth ages 10-18, according to Trina Dickinson, the center’s director.
Youth entering the center will be given a comprehensive evaluation including a mental health evaluation including a screening for suicide risk and ideation.
“The center is a hub for early intervention strategies,” Bergstrom said.
The center will offer youth and parenting classes, skill building programs for youth during after school hours, and other intervention programs.
Bergstrom is excited about the center’s ability to arrange professional services for youth and families.
“We will be able to procure services for families, at no cost to the family, without the youth going into custody or the court system,” he said.
The building that houses the center is owned by the County. It was remodeled by the County using a state grant. The County entered into an agreement with the Division of Juvenile Justice System to operate the center.
The facility has a recreation room, a group room, offices with a reception area, and conference rooms.
Operating funds for the center will come from the DJSS budget
“The County had a youth center, but it was funded by grant money and it closed when the grants ran out,” Bergstrom said. “This will be ongoing funding from DJSS’s general fund.”
DJSS operates similar centers throughout the state, including one in the Salt Lake Valley that has been open for 40 years, Bergstrom said.