SIDNEY — Juvenile Court handles delinquencies, traffic, unruly, paternity, truancy and abuse, neglect and dependency cases. It also handles custody of children of unwed parents, visitation and child support.
“In 2018, the Juvenile Court was very busy, handling over 1,064 matters with caseload increases of 68 percent for abuse, neglect and dependency, 60 percent for permanent custody, 16 percent for unruly, 40 percent for parentage, and 18 percent for child support matters,” said Judge Jeffrey J. Beigel. “The court continues to see the impact of the opiate crisis and family problems that contribute to these increases, including increased cost for required court appointed counsel for indigent parties. The court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) continue to play an integral role in the court’s approach to abuse, neglect and dependency cases, increasing staffing to handle a record caseload of 148 children. Attorney Steven Geise also serves as Juvenile Magistrate to assist the court.
His report continues:
In 2018, the court generated $98,000 in collected revenue to the general fund — a 61 percent increase over 2017.
The Court’s Probation Department hosted a multi-county training program on the implementation of an enhanced evidence-based probation system that is expected to have a significant and positive impact for our youth and community. The court’s implementation of these practices will continue throughout 2019. The court implemented the Ohio Youth Assessment System to provide enhanced analysis of disposition alternatives for at-risk youth. Dispositions of juvenile offenders can include detention, probation, community service, counseling and various other programs. In 2018 it was necessary to utilize over 2,400 total days of detention at the West Central Juvenile Facility for more serious delinquency offenders. The Court has also seen a significant increase in the need for long term residential services for certain juveniles.
Probation was active with youth through the various programs and partnerships, including the Family Resource Center (counseling), the Shelby County Animal Shelter (community service), the Alpha Center (Victory Garden), the Salvation Army (Bridging the Gap) and its Juvenile Justice Work Program (community service) that adopted the city of Sidney’s Piper Park as one of its work projects. The court was awarded a new fence for the garden and it owes a special thanks to local businesses Lochard’s and Tom’s Lawn & Landscaping for their contributions. The court continued its efforts to expand local partnerships to assist at risk youth and for community service alternatives.
Based upon the program’s success the IMPACT (Imagine Making Positive Accountable Changes Together) program was extended to high school students. With funding from the Shelby County United Way, the Juvenile Court will start its eighth year with this program. This prevention program excels in assisting at risk youth and reduces their future involvement in the juvenile justice system.
The Juvenile Traffic Court continued its second year with its traffic diversion/education program for first time minor traffic violations. The program’s success is favorably reflected by the low recidivism rate of 14 percent.
The Court conducted its annual outreach to the schools to ensure a collaborative approach in dealing with at-risk youth. The Court’s School Liaison Amy Simindinger continues to work closely with the Court, schools and juveniles to oversee progress, including various requested school presentations on topics such as bullying.
As a member of the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Juvenile Law & Procedure Committee the Judge regularly attended committee meetings to keep abreast of, and provide input on, proposed legislation, trends and issues that may affect our local court.
As always, the Court’s full annual report for the completed year will be published in the second quarter of this year and can be accessed at https://co.shelby.oh.us/juvenile-court/.