Marinette County residents had to be pleased with the recent news report that the Share Academy group home for juveniles is off to a good start. The group home, located in the Town of Peshtigo, has been operating since April.

According to Robin Elsner, director of the Marinette County Department of Health and Human Services, five juveniles are housed at Share Academy. Elsner informed the HHS Board at this month’s meeting that he believes the program is going well and doing what it was intended to do.

There were some tense months before the program got to this point. The county purchased the eight-bed facility in June 2018 for $200,000 from the Group Home Association, which had notified the county it no longer wanted to operate the home under a contract agreement with the county. The reason given by Group Home Association was because of its concerns regarding liability and the difficulty in lining up staff to operate the group home.

The county, after considerable discussion, agreed to lease the facility to Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living. The facility was closed for about 10 months while the HHS waited for the state to issue a group home license to Advocates. He said HHS social workers meet with Share Academy staff each week to discuss the juveniles in the group home.

Elsner said the discussions between social workers and group home staff includes topics like crisis calls and juvenile behavioral patterns. He indicated that law enforcement officers have had less contact that when the program was under Cross Roads.

According to Elsner, the group home for boys and girls could be at full capacity when two juveniles are allowed to be transferred from Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake maximum security facilities.

There seems to be a tendency in society to brush off the county’s juvenile problems. Like adults, juveniles have issues in life, too. They need supervision and counseling just like adults do when they get tangled up in behavior problems.

County residents should appreciate the persistence of the Department of Health and Human Services, working together with county and state officials, to get this program off the ground. A lot of work, coupled with frustration at times, went into getting Share Academy up and running. We wish the academy, and everyone else connected with this worthy program, well in going forward to serve our juvenile population.