The Board of Works approved a grant application aiming to help families of incarcerated people during its Tuesday morning meeting.

Michael Daniels, director of Behavioral Health and Justice Equity, brought forth a contract between his department and the Youth Assistance Program that would allow them to bring on a full-time case manager and train additional mentors throughout the year.

“The contract you have in front of you today is with the Youth Assistance Program – $45,000 to bring on a full-time case manager just to work with these particular children. Up to $8,750 to train additional mentors over the course of the year,” he said.

The grant comes from the Ohio Justice Initiative, with money they received from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

“As you know, the incarceration of a parent is a traumatic event on the family, particularly on the kids who are left back in the house, and can lead to a fear of the police, a change of income in the household,” Daniels said. “Often the remaining caregiver waits too long before they reach out for assistance – they wait until there’s a three-day notice on the door or the water gets shut off before they ask for help, and by then it’s often too late for us to be able to effectively intervene.

“So we’re writing for a grant that would allow us, in partnership with the sheriff’s office, to identify every person booked into the jail who has minor children at home,” he continued. “If that person agrees to have the family participate, the sheriff’s office with collect the names, ages and genders of those children, as well as the phone number and contact information for the remaining caregiver. That information will come to me.”

For children ages 12-17, Daniels’ department would make referrals to the Youth Assistance Program. He anticipates the program would benefit 110 families over the course of the year.

For children ages 0-11, Daniels’ department would partner with the Shelbyville Community Church’s ministry The Bridge. The ministry ensures the affected families’ state benefits information is up to date.

“We will be connecting those families to make sure they have primary care providers – through the Jane Pauly Center – to make sure they update all the information they have in the state benefits program,” Daniels said, “because if we take the breadwinner out of the house, there’s a potential chance there that they would be eligible for more assistance.”

The Youth Assistance Board had not yet reviewed the contract before the Board of Works gave approval. The deadline to submit for the grant is Friday, so the Board of Works needed to approve it at Tuesday’s meeting because it would not meet again prior to the deadline.