Posted Thursday, October 28th, 2010

If you are concerned with your child’s interest in fire, Morris County has a program you should know about.

The Morris County Juvenile Firesetter Prevention Program was officially established in the county’s Department of Human Services in 1999 to address the multi-faceted problem of fires set by individuals under 18, said Rachelle Farese, the county’s juvenile justice coordinator.

“Youth who set fires are usually naturally curious and act without any thought of the danger involved,” Farese said. “However, firesetting behavior may indicate serious emotional or social problems, which can be addressed through referrals for clinical evaluations.”

Under the program, juvenile referrals are made to Farese from a number of sources including parents, schools, the Family Court, police and fire departments.

A risk assessment of the youth is then made by mental health professionals, whose suggested interventions may include fire safety education, mental health treatment or both, Farese said.

According to Farese, 29 juveniles were referred to the program in 2009, while 35 referrals have already been received this year.

“We want to decrease the incidences of new firesets and reduce the risk of recidivism,” Farese said. “We also want to provide fire safety education to all children, adolescents and adults in Morris County to provide a safer community.”

The Juvenile Firesetter Prevention Program is sponsored by the Morris County Board of Freeholders in collaboration with the county’s fire services, law enforcement, mental health providers, schools and child welfare providers.

For more information or to make a referral, contact Farese at 973-285-6850.