Pilot program helps juvenile delinquents reform

THE BRONX - A program is helping troubled youths get out of the juvenile justice system and back in their homes.The nonprofit New York Foundling runs "Blue Sky" for the Administration for Children's Services. The program utilizes therapy and is currently recruiting foster parents through November to place children who don't have families to go home to.

Jonathan Escudero is a self-described one-time wild child, who admits Blue Sky turned his life around. "I was missing school every day. I was going around acting stupid and disrespecting people for no reason," Escudero says.

Last year, a scuffle with a bodega owner landed the 16-year-old in a detention center for assault and robbery charges. With Blue Sky's help, Escudero became one of the more than 100 kids it's helped since it started last January.

ACS has pledged $2 million a year for two years to keep the program running. According to Blue Sky, it costs about $20,000 for it to treat a troubled kid, as opposed to taxpayers paying significantly more to keep children in detention centers.

Parents who've reclaimed their kids thanks to Blue Sky believe the program investment is well worth it.

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