Girl's court addresses needs of young women

Program focuses on ‘underserved,' says Juvenile Judge Laura Parker

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Bexar County is getting high marks and national recognition for a program in the juvenile justice system that addresses the needs of young woman.

A group of low level offenders are underserved according to Judge Laura Parker, who set up “The Crossroads Girls Mental Health Court” in 2009 using funding from a federal grant.

“I felt that the girls were kind of underserved, because we did not have specific programs just for them,” Parker said.

She said Crossroads was set up to address what she says was a gap in the juvenile justice system.

“It was kind of more of a one-size-fits-all,” she said. “You do certain things and you get off probation.”

The program is designed to address more than just legal issues.  Mental health is also a critical component.

It is voluntary, and it is very intense, according to Parker.

“We have a caseworker and a therapist,” she explained. “And they have their probation officer and the meet with me on a regular basis in person.”

Parker said that is important because it makes it personal between her and the girls.

Mothers too are included.

“Girls’ issues are just very different than boys’ issues,” she said. “There’s a lot more emotional relationship issues.”

A similar program for boys only is being planned and will kick-off next month.

It is called “MIND”, which stands for Men in Need of Direction.

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