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Stephens County meeting aims to create new opportunities in wake of Youth Services closure

COMANCHE — The Office of Juvenile Affairs will host a meeting to coordinator efforts for at-risk juveniles at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Asbury Complex in Comanche.

The meeting will bring together residents and leaders of Stephens, Cotton and Jefferson Counties to develop juvenile prevention and diversion services in their communities in the wake of last year’s closing of Stephens County Youth and Services.

This is the latest in a series of meetings that began earlier this year with members and citizens of each respective county.

“We’re hopeful this process will identify exactly what the community needs, and that way we can target our funding to ensure those services are implemented,” said Amanda McClain, OJA community-based programs administrator. “We appreciate the involvement of those who have engaged in this process and dedicated their time to attend meetings and provide feedback. Their input plays a significant role in developing and implementing prevention and diversion services for the young people in their communities.”

Stephens County Youth and Services was forced to shut its doors unexpectedly March 2018 after years of budget cuts and funding reductions left the program unable to provide the opportunities for which it was known. Part of the reason for the funding reductions was due to a change in policy by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which began directing money away from youth shelters toward foster care services.

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