LAWRENCE COUNTY – It has been said that “Children are one-third of our population and all of our future,” and this long-standing sentiment continues to ring true in Lawrence County.

The youth of Lawrence County remain a high priority as well as the services provided to this valuable group. To ensure effective services continue to be offered to the youth and their caregivers, continued evaluation of services and necessary modification of these services must occur. A prime example of this evaluation and modification process can be seen in the recent work of the Lawrence County JDAI.

Lawrence County JDAI initiated in January 2020 and, despite the timing, the work has been unceasing. JDAI stands for Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative and was founded nationally by the Annie E. Casey Foundation more than twenty-five years ago.

Lawrence County JDAI is led by its Co-Coordinators, Katie Messmann, Nedra Brock-Fleetwood, and Scott Wedgewood. Anah Hewetson Gouty acts as the presiding judicial officer for Lawrence County JDAI. The initiating goal of JDAI was to reduce the placement of juveniles in secure detention. An additional goal of this leadership group was to involve many Lawrence County youth-focused agencies in the evaluation and redesign process.