County launches mentoring program for delinquent youths

A new court-ordered mentoring program for juveniles in Elkhart is in need of volunteers.

ELKHART — A new program titled Back on Track is seeking volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of kids in Elkhart.

These volunteers will engage in specialized training that will enable them to offer one-on-one mentoring to delinquent youths.

Back on Track was created through the collaborative efforts of Elkhart County Community Corrections, CAPS – Child And Parent Services, and the Juvenile Probation. The goal is to build positive adult-child relationships through specially trained mentors to help delinquent youths discover paths leading to positive lifestyles.

Juvenile Magistrate Deborah Domine said Back on Track is more than just a program.

“The rehabilitation of our kids is not about programs,” Domine said, “it is about relationships. And we hope that mentoring will provide our delinquent youth with relationships that will help them grow into productive members of our community.”

“Research has documented that mentoring is effective in the rehabilitation of delinquent youth,” said Supervisor of Juvenile Community Corrections Kutrina Butler.

Despite this, Elkhart County did not have an existing mentoring program in place.

“Even one positive relationship is enough to make the difference in a child’s life,” said Chief Probation Officer (Juvenile Division) Amanda Clabaugh. “This is why Elkhart County identified mentoring for our delinquent youth as a need in our community. Every child deserves a chance to succeed and mentors can be a bridge to that success.”

The mentorship opportunity for juveniles will be court-ordered and, according to Butler, the hope is that “it will be effective in changing lives.”

Back on Track mentors are volunteers dedicated and trained on building relationships that make an impact.

The first set of training will be Sept. 12, 19 and 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. at CAPS – Child And Parent Services. There is no charge for training, but registration is required.

Prospective volunteers can contact Kutrina Butler at 574-523-2003 for questions or to register.

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