COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today announced a $12.05 million investment in the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to expand juvenile delinquency prevention programs. The programs assist students who are at an increased risk of dropping out of school or becoming juvenile offenders as a result of the education, social, and emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
“The long-drawn-out closure of a number of South Carolina schools has dealt a blow to the educational and social development of some of our most vulnerable young people,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “These funds will directly change the course of lives and communities throughout the state. Our goal is to invest in these young people at an early age and give them the tools and resources they need to stay ‘outside the fence’ rather than in the ‘inside the fence’ at the Department of Juvenile Justice.”
“We aren’t sitting back and waiting for youth to be referred to DJJ before stepping in to help,” said DJJ Director Freddie Pough. “That’s why we proactively offer front-end prevention and intervention services to support families and keep our state’s youth from unnecessarily penetrating the juvenile justice system. The COVID-19 pandemic has unequivocally impacted youth and families – educationally, socially and emotionally. With a potential for increased delinquency due to this pandemic, these funds will allow us to meet youth where they are and reinvest in the next generation of South Carolinians.”
The funds allocated to DJJ will be invested as follows:
The original GEER Fund allocation was a one-time grant funded by monies received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. South Carolina’s initial GEER Fund allocation was $48 million. Today’s announcement completes the awarding of original GEER Fund monies that totaled $48,467,924.
Governor McMaster previously invested GEER funds in the following initiatives: