The Hennepin County Board on Tuesday approved a plan to divert more juvenile offenders from expensive out-of-home placement programs to in-home and community programs that will cost less and should be more effective.
The county spends $31 million a year on out-of-home placement for young offenders, about $12.5 million of that on the Hennepin County Home School in Minnetonka, which offers residential programs for juvenile delinquents.
A recent study by a panel of judges and corrections officials concluded that the county placed too many youths at the Home School for too long when shorter programs in their communities might be more effective.
Changes adopted by commissioners include cutting the number of out-of-home placements and the lengths of stay; restructuring Home School programs to incarcerate only the most serious offenders; using fewer out-of-home placement providers; regularly measuring the cost and effectiveness of youth treatment programs, and helping set up more community programs for youthful offenders.
Many of those community programs will have to be created.
An implementation plan will be presented to the board in November.
MARY JANE SMETANKA