Juvenile Center ‘fine tunes’ operations

Published 6:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2001

Open over a year and a half, Juvenile Rehabilitation Facilityofficials say improved staff training and other additions have ledto some “pretty smooth” operations.

Director Regina Terry said all three of the facility’sdormitories are open, and the facility has served 49 clients sinceJuly 1999. Currently, the facility is caring for 29mentally-retarded youths, she said.

The facility was recently recognized with the Richard B. DillardAward for outstanding staff training efforts by the SoutheasternAmerican Association of Mental Retardation.

“We’ve really beefed up a lot of our training,” Terry said.

The increased training, combined with an effort to educateofficials on the facility’s purpose, has produced good resultsfollowing a February 2000 incident where an employee was attackedby a client who was inappropriately placed.

“Bottom line, our judges are not as prone to send us clients whoare not appropriate,” Terry said. “We’ve made an all-out effort toeducate everybody who could be associated with our facility.”

In staffing matters, Terry said 11 of the 128 employee positionsfor the facility have never been filled. She said there had beensome difficulty in finding teachers for some of the positions.

Terry said the facility has more than 24 employees markingtwo-year anniversaries and who have been with the facility sincebefore it started taking clients. And, she was proud of a number ofothers who have been around since the facility took the firstclients.

“We’ve done well,” Terry said. “That says a lot about anorganization.”

On the client side, Terry and Assistant Director Dale Robertssaid a Human Rights Committee has been formed to oversee facilityactivities. The committee, made up of youth court representatives,parents and others familiar with dealing with mentally-retardedchildren, held its second quarterly meeting Wednesday.

“They’ll review all of the programs relating to our clients,”Terry said.

Terry and Roberts said the committee will be consulted whenprograms may need to be modified. The committee also has a say inclient advocacy interests, they said.

One example of a committee advocacy effort was when clients saidthey wanted to be able to call home more often. Terry said clientscan earn token money through good behavior, and the tokens can beexchanged for telephone time.

Terry said the facility has hosted a number of church and schooltours and local business and industries have been supportive,especially during the recent holidays.

“We’ve really had a lot of support,” Terry said.

From a physical plant aspect, the original plan called for sixfacility buildings, which were completed in time for opening, aresidential home for the director and a warehouse. Terry’s home anda receiving warehouse were completed in November.

“We had no storage for lawnmowers or anything like that,” Terrysaid about the benefits of the warehouse.

Other additions are possible.

“We hope to have group homes across the street in the future,”Terry said.

A mental health crisis center, for housing adult patientsawaiting treatment at a state hospital, is slated to be built atthe corner of Brookman Drive and Brookman Drive Extension.

Terry said it will be run by the state hospital, but thejuvenile facility would provide support services. The constructionarea is to be cleared and a groundbreaking was expected later thismonth or next month, Terry said.