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Cultural healing camps, equine therapy: Federal diversion grants for kids awarded across SD


Cultural healing camps, equine therapy: Federal diversion grants for kids awarded across SD

Jun 13, 2024 | 8:51 am ET
By Makenzie Huber
Cultural healing camps, equine therapy: Federal diversion grants for kids awarded across SD
The exterior court of the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center in Sioux Falls, pictured on Oct. 21, 2022. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

The state Department of Corrections will award over $800,000 in funds to 17 juvenile service programs across the state this year.

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The money will be used to support expanded diversion programs for young offenders, as well as cultural healing camps, equine therapy programs and court resource homes.

The awards were approved by the Council of Juvenile Services at a meeting this week. The group oversees the state’s role in the federal Formula Grants Program, meant to help states support delinquency prevention and make juvenile justice system improvement.

“There is some great programming going on around the state,” said council chairwoman Elisabeth O’Toole after the award amounts were decided. “… We’re putting a lot of money into this state, and that is wonderful.”

The 17 awards approved include:

  • $73,470  for the Hughes County State’s Attorney to dedicate staff time to diversion coordination, including data and success tracking for diversion programs.
  • $16,000 for the Hughes County State’s Attorney to focus diversion efforts on Native American youth by developing cultural programs in the community.
  • $30,000 for  Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Courts to fund a Juvenile Healing to Wellness Program for juveniles.
  • $75,000  for the Boys & Girls Club of Vermillion to expand diversion programs alongside the Teen Court and Teen Club program by creating a youth diversion director position.
  • $94,061 for Lutheran Social Services to support its “Strengthening Families” early intervention program, which teaches parents, teenagers and children skills in communication, discipline, and positive interactions.
  • $30,000 for the Brown County State’s Attorney to expand alternatives to detention programming by recruiting a family as the county’s “court resource home” to care for and shelter some juveniles. 
  • $29,405 for the Brown County State’s Attorney to support an inter-tribal cultural community center called the Wotakuye Oyate to provide restorative healing, revive cultural practices and reduce racial disparities.
  • $21,860 for the Boys and Girls Club of Watertown for a Codington County court resource home. A local family was licensed in 2023 to remain on-call for youth who need to be held but don’t need secure detention. The family will act as liaison between the juvenile, courts, school and other community partners.
  • $24,956 for the Boys and Girls Club of Watertown to reduce the disparate representation of Native American youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The club plans to place some Native American youth in a healing camp, rather than in juvenile detention.
  • $104,566 for the Oglala Lakota Division of Behavioral Health to employ juvenile probation officers, since the tribe does not employ any officers, provide shelter care and preventative programming and connect youth to cultural resources. The tribe plans to expand diversion options for youth living off-reservation through its partnership with Bennett County.
  • $25,564 for the Yankton County State’s Attorney for a court resource home as an alternative to detention. The county is seeking a court resource home host family.
  • $120,000 for the Northern Hills Diversion, which serves as Teen Court for Lawrence, Meade and Butte counties, to expand diversion services, including piloting a risk assessment tool for alternatives to detention.
  •  $90,856 for Lincoln County to improve existing diversion services and assess needs in the community.
  • $29,500 for the Davison County State’s Attorney to support court resource homes as an alternative to detention..
  •  $31,987 for the Davison County State’s Attorney for equine therapy at the Reclamation Ranch, and for a partnership with a group called I.AM.LEGACY to work with and guide Indigenous youth.
  • Less than $20,000 for the Pennington County State’s Attorney to fund and expand its community court, which includes Lakota-centered cultural programs, ceremonies and case management. Council members did not say how much the award would be worth, only that it would cover juvenile-related costs.