Clark County's Department of Juvenile Justice Services received the 21st Annual Cashman Good Government Award from the Nevada Taxpayers Association for its work with agency partners in establishing the Harbor Juvenile Assessment Center as an important community resource for troubled youth and their families.
The Harbor is designed to prevent children and teens from entering the juvenile justice system by helping families cope with problem behavior such as truancy or delinquency before issues potentially escalate into more serious trouble involving the police and court system. Since opening in October 2016, the Harbor has served nearly 7,000 local youth and families. To date, counseling, mentoring, tutoring and substance abuse treatment have been the top areas of service referrals. Only 5 percent of the clients served to date have escalated into the juvenile justice system.
"It's an honor to be recognized by the Nevada Taxpayers Association for the amazing work that our Department of Juvenile Justice has done to make the Harbor a success," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "Through the leadership of our Department of Juvenile Justice Services Director Jack Martin and his dedicated staff, Clark County has worked closely with many agency partners to build the Harbor into a resource model that helps families by offering preventative services that are effective and cost efficient."
Multiple community partners provide collaborative, one-stop services at the Harbor. In addition to Clark County's Department of Juvenile Justice Services, other agencies include Clark County's Department of Family Services, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Clark County Family Court, Clark County School District, Clark County District Attorney's Office, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, North Las Vegas Police Department, Three Square, Eagle Quest, the local cities and several nonprofit organizations.
"Clark County's Juvenile Justice Department has done an outstanding job collaborating with community partners to turn what began as a pilot program into a remarkable community success story," said Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly, who worked closely with Clark County's Juvenile Justice Services Department and other agencies and civic leaders to create the Harbor. "The Taxpayer Association award recognizes the fact that it pays to put resources into our children and their families, and that the results transform lives."
The Cashman Good Government Award honors government entities and individuals who put workplace experience together with ingenuity to make citizens services work better, faster and cheaper. The Harbor provides a safe haven for youth and families to get connected to services. The Harbor now has two locations. The location at 861 N. Mojave Road, off Washington Avenue, is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Its phone number is (702) 455-6912. A second location opened in October 2018 at 6161 W. Charleston Blvd., Building 2, on the State of Nevada's Department of Health and Human Services campus off Jones Boulevard. That location's phone number is (702) 486-5331.
To date, about 25 percent of The Harbor's clients have been walk-ins from the community, brought to the center by parents or caregivers seeking guidance with their children. Other referrals come directly from police dropping kids off at The Harbor instead of the juvenile detention center or intake staff at the detention center diverting kids to The Harbor if they have been arrested for a first-time or low level offense. Anyone in the community who believes a child or family could be served by the Harbor, including coaches, ministers, and relatives, is encouraged to call or visit the facility for help and referrals to local resources.
Signs that youth may need help include depression, anxiety, drug use, isolation, bullying or changes in behavior. Officials say youth behavior may be rooted in unmet mental health or substance abuse issues. It also could be symptomatic of issues going on with the family that can be addressed through community service providers. More information is available on the Harbor's website at www.theharborlv.com.