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Money lost; Two now trying to win race

Jamie Scott, Pulaski County Youth Services director (Photo courtesy: pulaskicounty.net)

On February 15th, the Arkansas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinating Council, acting on a recommendation from DHS, voted to terminate funding for a program that benefits Pulaski County youth.

A state representative candidate believes that voters in parts of North Little Rock, Maumelle and Jacksonville deserve to know why.

Isaac Henry says his opponent in the race for House District 37 was in charge of Pulaski County Youth Services when the funding was pulled, and that the buck stops with her - Jamie Scott.

“I am saddened by the news that potential funds were lost, which could have helped the men, women and children in our community,” writes Henry in a statement. “I have walked the streets of District 37 my entire life and during this election season, I have had many conversations with the people here. It is clear we have a great need that those funds could have potentially met. My hope is that the voters in District 37 vote for the candidate who has District 37 and their children’s best interests at heart.”

Our attempts to get a response from Ms. Scott have been unsuccessful.

A letter dated March 5th and addressed to Jamie Scott from Prevention Program Manager Chuks Odor states in part, “We regret to inform you that UA Little Rock, MidSOUTH Center for Prevention and Training will not continue the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success (PFS) grant funding…due to unauthorized use of PFS funds to conduct youth focused activities after the request to cease such activities until further notification was sent on November 15th, 2017. Pulaski County Youth Services also failed to submit the requested documentation needed to demonstrate their effort to ensure the safety and well-being of their program’s youth after a traumatic event within their organization.”

The “traumatic event” referred to in the “DISCONTINUATION OF PARTNERSHIP FOR SUCCESS FUNDING” letter was the November 13th arrest of 27-year-old George Haney. Haney was the director of an after-school program at Second Baptist Church on John Barrow Road in Little Rock. Freedom of Information Act requests show that the program was a major recipient of funding through Pulaski County Youth Services. Haney was fired by PCYS after he was arrested and charged with raping a 14-year-old boy.

Despite being ordered to cease all youth-related activities, Ms. Scott and PCYS staff continued to submit receipts for reimbursement for expenses incurred after November 15th. Many of those expenses can be reviewed in the complete March 5th letter here.

Ms. Scott joined Pulaski County government as Youth Services Director in 2015.

In addition to the November 15th order to suspend all Partnership for Success grant funded activities and youth contacts by the employees of Pulaski County Youth Services, MidSOUTH asked Ms. Scott to provide the following:

1. Protocols of your hiring processes and vetting of employees.

2. Policies that your organization utilizes to insure the safety of youth that participate in your programs.

3. A recovery plan as to how your organization intends to regain the trust of children and parents and community partners who assist in the partnership for success activities.

On December 14th, a follow-up email from Tiffini McAdoo, PFS Specialist with MidSOUTH, to Ms. Scott stated in part the following: “We still ask that all Partnership for Success grant funded activities that involve contact with youth or youth participation be immediately ceased until further notice and will await the requested documentation from Pulaski County Youth Services.”

The next day, Kaprese Warren, PCYS administrative assistant, sent an email that sought to answer questions raised in the wake of the Haney arrest. It can be viewed here. It includes this statement from Ms. Scott: “I’m very saddened to hear the news. I’m praying for the victim and his family. The safety of the kids in our programs is our number one priority. We’ve been around for nearly three decades and we know how important these programs are to youth and their families. I look forward to working with my staff to continue to provide quality services to youth in Pulaski County.”

Even before the Haney arrest MidSOUTH had been having some issues with grant expenditures and educational tools being proposed by Partnership for Success. For example, in an email dated September 20th, Kaprese Warren was told, “The depiction of use or obtaining substances is shown in the Teen Testimonial video and we cannot approve the use of that video. We also cannot approve the use of testimonials by addicts.”

A September 19th email states, “In regards to the Fatal Vision Marijuana kit, Fatal Vision roadster and the Fatal Audio distraction Unit Kit we are NOT able to provide reimbursement for these items. Funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Prevention does not allow the purchase or condone in the use of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs simulation goggles. Any Partnership for Success grant recipient that purchases the googles or engages in activities involving the use of simulation goggles WILL NOT be reimbursed and will be subject to probationary actions or risk termination of their contract.”

In the end, the youth protection plan offered by Pulaski County Youth Services and Director Jamie Scott was not sufficient to satisfy the controlling agencies. That, in addition to “unauthorized use of funds,” resulted in the termination of the grant.

The fact that one candidate believes this is a relevant campaign issue does not sit well with Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde: “It’s clear that Jamie Scott has become a target for political gain. Jamie is passionate and dedicated to the youth of Pulaski county. Last year, PCYS raised nearly $500,000 for youth programs. Jamie and her staff have made an enormous impact in Pulaski county; serving approximately 4,000 youth each year. We regret the decision by MidSOUTH to discontinue funding; however, our programs continue to grow and funding from other sources have remained.”

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