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DART bolstered by new funding

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The DART (Dauphin At-Risk Teens) program just hit a bulleye, as Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced an annual funding increase of $50,000 to support and expand the program, Aug. 30.
DART co-ordinates police, social service agencies and community organizations to support at-risk youth and their families.
Cullen said the provincial government believes in positive partnerships and is pleased to partner with DART.
“And we’re excited to see these partnerships result in positive outcomes,” he said, adding the program will continue to receive a $5,000 annual grant from the Manitoba government in addition to its new funding.
DART clients are youth ages 12 to 17, plus their family, who are showing high-risk behaviours and may already have existing relationships with community agencies or previous involvement with law enforcement.
Under the DART model, all partners work with the youth and their family, to identify the issues at the root of the problem, to develop a comprehensive plan to improve their lives.
This may include addictions treatment support, mental health supports, probation services or parenting supports.
Cullen recognized the good work the program does on behalf of families, noting there are many challenges for families.
“But certainly, we believe taking the collaborative approach, as you do with DART, we will achieve success, as we go forward,” he noted.
DART steering committee chair, Susie Secord, pointed out the program has been working with youth up to the age of 18 for the last 10 years and has seen success, with some DART clients graduating from high school.
In addition to crediting much of the success of the program to co-ordinator Lori Bicklmeier, she said working with agencies for youth is important.
Secord admitted DART recently had difficulty accessing funds for the program.
“And for the province to come through and provide those funds to us is just amazing and we’re very grateful for the funding,” she said.
Secord noted Bicklmeier has been working for DART part time and it has been difficult to maintain the typical number of clients.
DART has proven it can divert youth from the criminal justice system, she said,
“We find, a lot of times, what families and youth need is advocates to get through that maze of, not only the justice system, but also school and those other things,” Secord said.
With the new funding, Secord added, the board is pleased DART can now expand its services to young people up to the age of 29.
Dauphin RCMP Staff Sgt. Nolan Suss, referred to DART as a valuable program that brings together youth, parents, guardians and related agencies to manage and address issues and at-risk behaviours, to try to prevent reoccurrences.
“This a co-ordinated and collaborative approach that has changed the lives of many of our youth Lori has been dealing with, as well as the families involved,” he said, noting as an RCMP member, he has seen, first hand, the benefits of DART.
The participation of teens has had positive results, Suss said, noting 65 per cent of DART clients had no or minimal involvement with police, after being part of the program last year.
“We feel that the DART is an impactful community policing, crime reduction and crime prevention strategy,” he added.
The focus on the health and wellbeing ofyoung people in the community, Suss said, will lessen the chance of them becoming more involved in the justice system, improve their lives and the community overall.
Dauphin MLA Brad Michaleski noted DART has proven its ability to help change the lives of youth and he is proud of the support for the initiative.
The funding is part of a $250,000 investment from Budget 2018 in community mobilization initiatives, Cullen said, designed to prevent crime across Manitoba.
He noted community mobilization projects like DART support the goals of the province’s Criminal Justice System Modernization Strategy, released in March, which prioritizes evidence-based investments to reduce crime and support community safety.
The province is supporting similar projects in other communities, Cullen said, such as Steinbach, Stonewall, Gimli and Selkirk.
“And this is really about producing real results, which ultimately will fight crime in our communities,” he added.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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