Juvenile Detention Center
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 care for youth requiring secure custody pending court study 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.
- To provide a safe and secure environment for juveniles admitted to Detention
- To reduce further delinquency in the targeted population
The Detention Facility, which has a bed capacity of 69, currently employs 104 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 Facility averaged 27.5 hours of training per employee in 2012.
Within the six residential units, emphasis is placed on group living through the behavior management program. The programs of Detention are activity oriented and intended to be constructive for the youth.
A full school program is a major component of Detention programming. The Lighthouse Academy funds and staffs the school unit. The school staff consists of five full-time academic teachers; one reading specialist; four paraprofessionals for remedial math and reading; one social worker; one student advocate; and one specialist education case management support staff. Each resident is tested in order to provide individualized instruction at the juvenile’s actual functioning grade level. Classes are conducted in 60-minute increments, with the students changing between core classes and instructors each period.
The facility continues to offer a year-round school program. The Lighthouse Academy provides classes Monday through Thursday. Community consultants as well as Detention staff provide Friday classes which include topic areas such as Youth Empowerment, Therapeutic Communication, Physical Education, Art Therapy, Health Education (public health topics and AIDS, safety, sexual awareness), Life 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.
Medical staff examine juveniles within 24 hours of being admitted. There is a routine physical examination which includes a tuberculosis (TB) test and sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing. Our dentist is here one day a month. He does a dental examination and some dental repair.
Nursing staff are on duty from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Clinic medical doctors see juveniles in Detention twice a week, and our doctor is always on call. Medical staff verify all medical prescriptions and obtain any needed prescriptions. If a child becomes ill or has an accident, the facilities of local hospitals are used. If such an emergency happens, parents are immediately notified by a shift supervisor or probation officer.
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 twenty 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 224 youth in 2012.
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 community.