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Juvenile Justice Center's care budget in the red

Juvenile Justice Center's care budget in the red

November 14th, 2017 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

In June, commissioners Randy Kleindienst, left, Gary Jungermann and Roger Fischer met with Boone County Court Administrator Mary Epping and Judge Sue Crane, among others, to discuss solutions for the county's rapidly depleting Juvenile Justice Center care budget.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun.

The Juvenile Justice Center's budget for juvenile care ran out $4,652 ago, according to the 13th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Division's Callaway County supervisor.

Kirsten Lange said with $29,000 budgeted towards detaining juveniles at the Juvenile Justice Center in Columbia, $33,650 has been spent. At a cost of $50 per night per child, that's 93 nights more than expected.

Lange said despite the overage in the juvenile care budget, the overall Juvenile Office is within budget.

"We have $56,607 remaining in the general Juvenile Office budget and anticipate keeping our operating costs within the overall budged amount for 2017," she said Monday.

Officials anticipated the budget pinch. In early June, a number of county and court officials met to discuss why the budget was being depleted at such a high rate.

The main issue, Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said, is parents of detained children rarely repay the court.

"Only two or three out of a bunch are actively making payments," he said.

One of the hang-ups mentioned during the meeting is parents fail to fill out Missouri Form 14 to disclose their finances. Lange said parents are assessed a daily rate based on their Form 14 information.

During the June meeting, attendees suggested having Circuit Judge Sue Crane order parents to complete the form during heir disposition. Lange confirmed that is now happening.

"Judge Crane has taken a proactive role in holding parents financially responsible for the care provided to their children," Lange said. "In cases where the parent has cooperated with filling out the form, (she enters) an order at the disposition of the case that the parent is to pay the determined daily amount. ... In cases where the parent (hasn't cooperated), Judge Crane has ordered the parent both to comply with the completion of the Form 14 and to file their financial statements with the court by a set date."

Another issue at plan is the shrunken juvenile care budget. Lange explained the budget is calculated from the average juvenile care expenditures from the previous five years.

"As recently as 2014, the annual budget for juvenile care was $41,000," she said. "However, in looking at the average funds spent in the five years prior to 2017, it was determined that $29,000 was in keeping with the mean costs."

It isn't currently clear whether this year's costs are part of a trend or anomalous, she added.

Regardless, the care budget for 2018 is projected to be $38,500 — an increase of $9,500.

Lange said, as always, the budget was calculated by looking at costs over the previous five years.