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Callaway County juvenile court's care budget in red

Callaway County juvenile court's care budget in red

November 14th, 2017 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

<p>Helen Wilbers/For the News Tribune</p><p>In June, Callaway County commissioners Randy Kleindienst, left, Gary Jungermann and Roger Fischer met with Boone County Court Administrator Mary Epping and Judge Sue Crane, among others, to discuss solutions for the county&#8217;s rapidly depleting Juvenile Justice Center care budget.</p>

The Juvenile Justice Center's budget for juvenile care ran out $4,652 ago.

Of the $29,000 budgeted toward detaining juveniles at the Juvenile Justice Center in Columbia, $33,650 has been spent, said Kirsten Lange, the Juvenile Division's Callaway County supervisor. At a cost of $50 per night per child, that's 93 nights more than expected.

Despite the overage in the juvenile care budget, the overall Juvenile Office is within budget, Lange said.

"We have $56,607 remaining in the general Juvenile Office budget and anticipate keeping our operating costs within the overall budgeted amount for 2017," she said Monday.

Officials anticipated the budget pinch. In early June, a number of county and court officials met to discuss why the budget was being depleted at such a high rate.

The main issue, Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said, is that parents of detained children rarely repay the court.

"Only two or three out of a bunch are actively making payments," he said.

One of the hang-ups mentioned is that parents fail to fill out Missouri Form 14 to disclose their finances. Lange said parents are assessed a daily rate based on their Form 14 information.

During the June meeting, attendees suggested having Circuit Judge Sue Crane order parents to complete the form during heir disposition. Lange confirmed that is happening now.

"Judge Crane has take a proactive role in holding parents financially responsible for the care provided to their children," Lange said. "In cases where the parent has cooperated with filling out the form, (she enters) an order at the disposition of the case that the parent is to pay the determined daily amount. In cases where the parent (hasn't cooperated), Judge Crane has ordered the parent both to comply with the completion of the Form 14 and to file their financial statements with the Court by a set date."

Another issue is the shrunken juvenile care budget, calculated from the average juvenile care expenditures from the previous five years, Lange explained.

"As recently as 2014, the annual budget for juvenile care was $41,000," she said. "However, in looking at the average funds spent in the five years prior to 2017, it was determined that 29,000 was in keeping with the mean costs."

It isn't clear whether this year's costs are part of a trend or anomalous, she added. Regardless, the care budget for 2018 is projected to be $38,500 — an increase of $9,500. As always, that budget was calculated by looking at costs over the previous five years, Lange said.