The Orange County, Fl., sheriff’s office offers help to families of troubled children. Orange County Undersheriff Malone Stewart, founder of Reclaiming Our Community at Youth, hopes that this early intervention will save his deputies work years from now, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Although ROCY aims to keep kids in school, at heart, it’s an anti-crime program, said Stewart.
Kids who show up hungry and unkempt are likely neglected at home. Children who act out in the classroom often have behavioral disorders that need treatment. If they don’t get help, they do poorly in school, drop out and run a greater risk of committing crimes later in life, experts say. “If a child goes past third grade and can’t read, you might as well put a penitentiary number on their back,” Stewart said. Guidance counselors at three elementary schools identify at-risk children and steer them to the sheriff’s ROCY program, where social workers and school resource deputies enter the child’s home to check up on parents and offer intensive support. They monitor the child’s academic progress, attendance and behavior, arrange for medical care, find mentors and tutors, and help parents get the services they need to give their kids a better home. Seventy-five children are in the program, which runs on a $150,000 budget.