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VEGAS LOST: Local youth getting help at 'The Harbor'

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By now we’ve heard the problem. Kids are committing serious crimes at a rate we rarely see. We saw it in Judge Voy’s Courtroom, in the Clark County Detention Center, at Spring Mountain Youth Camp.

We’ve heard the problem.

Now, perhaps there’s a solution. That solution found in a small building on Mojave Road.

Its called The Harbor, an idea a decade in the making now realized.

To know how it works simply think of an actual harbor. One location where services across the valley can come together.

The Department of Family Services, Welfare, The DA’s Office, School District, Police Departments, and therapists and counselors are all centrally located. The Harbor is free and open to the public 24 hours a day.

“Instead of clogging the system up with unnecessary low level offenses we want to get them to what they really need,” Cesar Lemos tells us “which is services. A lot of families don’t know what services are available or they don’t know how to navigate to connect to that service. We do that for them. “

Its been open for a little over a year. The man behind it is Jack Martin who tells us getting to kids and families early could save lives.

“When we originally sold this kind of concept we thought we were going to be far more dependent on law enforcement interventions,” Martin said. “What we’ve found is parents are excited. Listen parents love their kids and when they see them going down a wrong direction knowing this has been a place where they’ll be further escalated in systems we haven’t had a whole lot of problems.”

According to Martin, it has been a success. In the year and a half its been open, more than 3,000 families have been served. Slightly more than 100 of those kids have gone on to escalate their behavior and end up in the court system.

“Throwing kids away wasn’t working because they’re kids,” Martin explains. “And they’re going to be back out. So what we're doing is quite honestly manufacturing predators by locking them up for non-violent crimes, small petty things. The front end is recognizing what behaviors derive criminal behaviors. Recognizing them earlier with validated assessment tools and then wrap services around them that are going to work on the presenting issues.”

The Harbor’s youngest clients have been just 3-years-old. Referrals from the school district bring in kids from 4-8 years old. The Harbor has been so successful they plan on opening a second campus this summer.



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