Volunteers for Youth Justice receives $100,000 grant for truancy program

Volunteers for Youth Justice receives a donation to help serve students.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Each year hundreds of children in Caddo Parish miss school for various reasons.

A few years ago, Volunteers for Youth Justice teamed up with the District Attorney’s office, Willis Knighton, and the Caddo Parish School Board to address this issue in schools across the area.

Volunteers for Youth Justice serves around 1,300 students a year in 40 schools across Caddo Parish and found many students were missing school for things that could be easily fixed.

“A lot of them lacked uniforms, lacked transportation, medical issues and things of that nature,” said Executive Director Kelli Todd.

A year and a half ago, Todd says CHRISTUS reached out to them about a grant so they applied. They recently won $100,000 that will go towards their Truancy Assessment Service Center Program.

“We’re looking for organizations that are playing a part of healthcare, but not necessarily attached to CHRISTUS,” said Isaac Palmer, CEO of CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier. “We’re also looking for large dollar donations that can make a real difference in the community.”

Todd says they only have five officers servicing these schools, so this money will go towards adding and training more.

“One of our biggest issues is not having enough officers to go into all these schools,” she said. “This has allowed us to add two additional officers so the current school officers have less schools, and they can do better case work and spend more time with their families.”

Todd says since they started this program the community has been a big help to them and the children.

“You wouldn’t believe the community involvement,” she said. “If we need to contact a kid and their family, and we cant find them because they moved a lot, the Marshal’s office goes out and helps us. They’re not getting on to them, they want to help them. So everyone has stepped up and this has been a great partnership with our entire community."

Todd says they have three goals which is provide more uniforms, medical services and transportation.

So far they have opened their first uniform closet that has enough uniforms for every child they handle. They also have partnered with a local pediatrician that allows visits for the children and their parents for free.

The organization is still working to try and provide transportation for these students. If you would like to help with that or learn more about the programs they offer, you can call Volunteers for Justice at (318) 455-4413 or visit their website HERE.

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