One-of-a-kind program expands hours to help at-risk juveniles

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The Harbor Center, which helps at-risk youth, will be open 24-hours a day. Its services are geared towards keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, at 6 a.m., The Harbor Center will open and never close again.

“This is our community entrance,” said Cesar Lemos, executive director, The Harbor Center. “Families and youth will come through here.” 

It’s a one-of-a kind program in Clark County now located at Metro’s old training facility. The building has since been renovated.

“This allows us to have more, you know, conference rooms, more confidential interviews with families,” Lemos said.

He says, the new location and extended hours give families accessibility to an array of services any time they need it, under one roof.

“We have the school district assessment team. We have division of welfare and support services and we have the division of family services staff stationed in those areas.” 

About 40 percent of the kids end up at The Harbor after getting in trouble with police. Instead of booking them, officers bring them to the center.

“This is where officers will come in when they’re picking up kids for those charges or offenses that, that qualify for us. So, we’re looking for first time, low-level offenses,” Lemos said.

The rest are either referrals or walk-ins.

“So, by allowing them to come to The Harbor, kids have an opportunity to divert from juvenile courts thus unclogging the juvenile justice system from unnecessary kids and families for very minor charges,” Lemos said.

Since opening in Oct. 2016, The Harbor has helped 2,900 families.

“We’ve had a 96 percent success rate, in terms of youth not escalating into juvenile courts.”

Lemos hopes being away from their old location will encourage more families to take advantage of the services. 

“We’re separate from juvenile courts so it allows families the opportunity to come to a location that’s just more neutral,” he said.

Families never have to worry about getting a bill. All the services offered at The Harbor are free. Anyone 17 and younger can seek their help.

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