To help its recently launched teen drug court program get off the ground, Grayson County’s Department of Juvenile Services will get $250,000. Commissioners unanimously moved to accept the six-figure grant awarded by the Department of Justice Tuesday.


The money will benefit the Restore Intervention to Support and Empower Youth or RISE Program which started in mid-October. As a condition of the two-year grant, juvenile services must match 25 percent of the total funding from its existing budget.


“I can tell you from how many young adults I’ve sent to prison and dealt with in the juvenile system, that (youth) with substance abuse problems are the most at risk and the most likely to become adult criminals,” Judge Brian Gary of the 397th District Court said Tuesday. “It’s our goal to try and stop that.”


The program accepted its first youth participant recently, but officials have said they have three more in the pipeline and hope to expand total enrollment to 8-12 young people. RISE participants will spend 6-9 months in the program and engage with counselors, educators and law enforcement.


Gary said substance abuse is the likely the largest hurdle in helping young people get back on the straight and narrow path, and the program will largely be offered to juveniles who have recently undergone rehabilitative treatment.


“We want to grab them when they get back and put them into the program before they have a chance to have some bad influences,” Gary said.


While the funding is expected to prove helpful, RISE administrators are still looking for community volunteers to join in the program’s roll out. The Youth Justice Circle is seeking 2-3 volunteers for each participant and asks that they check in with youth at least twice a month for group and individual sessions. The Justus League seeks contributors who may not be able to devote as much time but are still willing to provide donations or share their talents and resources.


Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herlad Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.