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Mecklenburg County advisory board seeking solutions to juvenile crime

“Its core mission is to identify youth who are touching the juvenile system and wrap them up in support to get them out as quickly as possible,” Matt Simon said.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council is still accepting applications to fund local programs that serve at-risk youth.

The council is also known as JCPC. It has a simple -- but not easy -- goal to help kids stay out of trouble.

“Its core mission is to identify youth who are touching the juvenile system and wrap them up in support to get them out as quickly as possible,” Matt Simon, chief program officer for Thompson Child and Family Focus said.

JCPC has $2 million up for grabs to fund local programs that focus on this mission. Last year, JCPC supported just over a dozen organizations. One of them is Thompson Child and Family Focus in Matthews. It plans to apply again for its court psychologist and assessment program, which has been operating in the county for about 15 years.

It provides assessments to youth who are involved in the juvenile system who are kind of stuck or have some extra layers of complexities or mental health that could be contributing to some of their behaviors,” Simon said.

Life Connections in Charlotte is also applying.

Charles and Aloma Bryson told WCNC Charlotte they know firsthand the importance of organizations like this because it helped their two sons when they needed it the most.

“The boys got boys-to-men mentoring and we got parent support... so to speak. It’s been a great village for us when it comes to helping raise our children,” Aloma Bryson said. “It not only helped to support the children... helping them to think outside the box and to constantly think of how to stay out of trouble but it is a great support for the family.”

Their family is stronger because of it.

“The biggest change overall we saw collectively as a family -- in our ability to address the issues, hold each other accountable, not just us as parents holding our children accountable but them holding us accountable and feeling that they have a voice," she said. 

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The Brysons are taking the tools they’ve learned and using them to help others. 

“We plan to stay active, just being on the board seeing it from that side of things," Charles Bryson said. "It is great to be in a position to be able to help out in some other way and make it as big as possible."

Both became board members, and Charles Bryson is also a mentor for Life Connections. Now they’re empowering others.

JCPC is considering various programs that provide family counseling, psychological assessments, substance abuse treatment and temporary shelter to name a few.

Organizations must attend a virtual information session to apply for funding and the next and final one is Feb. 2.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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