The Madison County Probation and Court Services Department has been honored with this year's Innovative Leadership Award for its work on the county's truancy diversion program.

The award is given by the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield and was presented last week in Peoria at the Illinois Probation and Court Services Annual Conference.

The award is meant to honor departments that demonstrate leadership in offender program development.

"This is a groundbreaking initiative," the department's director Judy Dallas said in the press release sent out by Chief Judge Ann Callis' office Monday, "and it is so gratifying to have the concept recognized and appreciated on a state level. We are honored."

Madison County's department was unanimously chosen for this year's award, according to the press release.

The county's Truancy Court division was established in 2007. It aims to decrease the amount of truants coming through the Madison County courts. Since its inception, the program has had an 85 percent completion rate, a 90 percent academic improvement rate and a 75 percent extra-curricular activity involvement rate, according to the release.

Distinctive features of the truancy program include the founding of video gaming clubs at local schools that officials in the release cite as key successes in countering absenteeism and increasing student involvement.

Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey oversees the truancy court. Probation Officer Brad Paschal serves as the program coordinator.

More News