The Kent County Juvenile Detention Center is a multi-purpose facility designed to provide pre- and post-disposition, safe and secure short-term care and custody for juveniles who cannot be placed in a less restrictive setting and who have violated the law, violated court orders and stipulations of probation, and/or who are waiting court-ordered placement.
The function of Detention is to provide temporary safe care for youth requiring secure custody pending court evaluation and disposition, or pending transfer to another jurisdiction or agency. Detained youth are ones whose offenses are so serious that release would endanger public safety or the welfare of the child.
The Detention facility, which has a bed capacity of 69, currently employs 102 staff (includes school, medical, mental health personnel, etc.,) with the majority of that workforce being Youth Specialists.
The facility’s staff training/orientation program is extensive in its coverage of training issues and offers training to other Court staff and County employees, as well as its own staff. The State’s Division of Child Welfare Licensing mandates training in 9 specific areas. All staff completed their hours of training in those areas, plus many more hours on other topics. The object of all of these activities is to produce a knowledgeable, confident, and professional Juvenile Detention employee who can perform on the job according to the highest professional standards. While state law calls for at least 24 hours of training annually for each detention employee, Kent County Juvenile Detention averaged 36 hours of training per employee in 2009.
Within the six residential units, emphasis is placed on group living. Although Detention is not a treatment facility, the programs of the center are activity oriented and intended to be constructive for the youth.
The Detention Center continues to provide residents with a cognitive learning model (Cognitive Behavioral Training or CBT), designed to change adolescent value and belief systems by getting them to examine their thinking before making choices. This training is designed to teach residents to be actively involved in their own care and outcome. The goal here is to help reduce recidivism by teaching residents to make rational choices, and maintain this thinking ability after they leave Detention. The effectiveness of this program has been evaluated with the assistance of Calvin College students by comparing statistical data from 2005 (prior to CBT) with statistical data from 2008. The conclusion of this study noted that Detention staff reported many positive outcomes since CBT’s implementation, including decreased inappropriate behaviors, more opportunities for relationship-building, increased clarity and structure in the area of rewards and punishments, and changes in staff. The study also noted declines in several unwanted behaviors such as suicide attempts and gestures, talking in the halls, incidents, and emotional outbursts. Staff have also observed decreases in the number of room confinements and use of personal restraints. CBT provides staff with more opportunities to compliment the residents, resulting in an increased sense of pride and accomplishment among residents while in Juvenile Detention. Since there are decreases in time spent in room confinement, there is more interaction between the staff and residents. The residents learn the connection between their behavior and the consequences, and can better deal with their inner struggles.
A full school program is a major component of Detention programming. The Grand Rapids Board of Education funds and staffs the school unit. The school staff consists of five full-time academic teachers, one teacher consultant, one school social worker, two paraprofessional staff, one support staff, and four tutors for remedial math and reading. Each resident is tested in order to provide individualized instruction at the juvenile’s actual functioning grade level. Classes are conducted in 90-minute increments in the morning and 70, 55, and 62-minute increments in the afternoon, with the students changing classrooms, instructors, and subject matter each period. A school computer lab with 24 flat screen monitors provides Detention residents with online learning and high school credit recovery via NovaNet and E2020 programs. In addition, there is a state-of-the-art data projector for step-by-step instruction and online viewing.
The facility continues to offer a year-round school program. The Grand Rapids
Board of Education provides classes Monday through Thursday. Community consultants
as well as Detention staff provide Friday classes which include topic areas
such as Etiquette (designed for our female residents on ladylike conduct),
Therapeutic Communication, Physical Education, Art Therapy, Health Education
(public health topics and AIDS, safety, sexual awareness), Financial Literacy,
and Social Skills. These Friday classes offer residents a chance to deal
with issues that contributed to their coming to the facility, as well as
teaching them skills that will help them make better decisions. Many classes
are gender specific, meaning some topics are for males and others are for
Network 180 is contracted to provide on-site crisis intervention services and assessments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During routine on-site time, mental health clinicians provide mental health and/or substance abuse assessment; brief, focused mental health intervention; crisis intervention; and coordination of mental health and/or substance abuse services with parents, probation officers, the Department of Human Services workers, and other professionals involved with the juveniles in Detention.
Assigned chaplains and other interested churches maintain community involvement through the provision of religious services. Local civic and college groups provide many special activities as well. There are also group counseling sessions provided on a daily or, in some instances, a weekly basis.
A source of financial support continues to come from the Waalkes Living Memorial Fund in memory of the late Judge Wallace Waalkes. This fund, supervised by three trustees, continues to fund special projects for programs and materials for the juveniles in secure Detention.
Kent County continues to contract with Holy Cross Children's Services to operate The Haven. The Haven (formerly the “Boysville Haven” facility) adjacent to the Juvenile Center is a 20-bed short-term step-down program from Detention for youth who are admitted to Detention, but do not require the security level provided by Detention. The Haven served 236 youth in 2009.
The Detention facility’s administration and staff continue to look
for ways to improve its services to the youth who pass through its doors
so that when released, they will have better coping skills to use in the
1501 Cedar Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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