|The Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day artwork created by Sara now hangs in the Hilltop Youth’s Services Office.|
|Artwork created by Sara|
A young woman we’ll call Sara wasn’t even born when a State-funded program began in Colorado to help youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system. But Sara’s story shows how Senate Bill 94 continues to help youth like her find new pathways to success.
Sara was 16 years old when she was arrested on a District Court Warrant with charges of theft; she had used a stolen credit card to make purchases. After the arrest, she was screened and detained in secure detention at the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center (GMYSC). The following day, Sara’s father committed suicide. It was also discovered that prior to taking his own life, he had also murdered his girlfriend.
Sara was released from GMYSC to the custody of her grandmother and placed on SB 94 supervision, a service that maintained Sara in the community while she went through the court process. Kortni Grett, Sara’s SB 94 case manager, began working closely with her to ensure that the conditions of her bond were followed, and that Sara received mental health and grief support. In a short time, Sara was able to re-enter school and complete all of the court-ordered sentencing requirements and her case was officially closed.
SB 94 staff were so impressed with Sara’s motivation to succeed, they asked her to become a representative in the Youth Voice program at Hilltop Youth Services. She did volunteer work at Hilltop and continued to receive mentorship from Kortni Grett. She was eventually offered a work stipend which helped her learn employment skills with the hope that she will grow into a contributing professional.
Through her determination and caseworker’s support, Sara has now completed High School, will walk with her class in May, and just last week moved to Grand Junction where she is enrolled in Cosmetology School. She is a shining example of youth who strive to turn things around and when given the opportunities, tools, mentoring, and community support, are able to flourish.