LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice is bringing in a new program with the mission to stop the growing problem on juvenile crime and violence.

Devon Patin, with the State of Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, said the point of the program is to divert kids from the formal court system and provide necessary skills kids need to be successful thanks to a team of counselors.

“The LAMARC (Louisiana Multi Agency Resource Center) program is an opportunity for the juvenile justice community here in the Lafayette region to start addressing juvenile needs at the front end,” Patin said. “These are kids that might have gotten arrested for low-level offenses or are just having problems at home, they all can funnel into this program where we’ll be able to give a quality needs assessment to figure out what are the needs going on with that young person.”

Kids will be referred to these counselors by groups around the parish including the school board, Lafayette Consolidated Government, Police and even the Fire Department, as well as walk in appointments for families in need.

The counselors will meet with the kids, and recommend other needed services for each child.

“It takes all of us to come together, use all of the resources that we have to wrap around these young folks, that way they’re not involved in this criminal activity,” Patin said. “The hope is that we help these young persons learn how to make proper decisions and better decisions.”

Patin said a similar program is in progress in Lake Charles and seeing positive results.

The plan is for the inclusion of Lafayette to lead to a statewide program in the future.

“There’s a need across the state of Louisiana, everybody needs help,” Patin said. “We want to be a part of that collaboration that is assisting families and assisting kids.”      

Courtney Myers, with the State of Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, said, “Our hope is that we are able to replicate this across the state.”

The LAMARC program is targeted to start on May first with a minimum of four staff members as well as a social services member, with room to grow.