YRTC-Kearney Earns Top Marks in Recent Audit

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News Release
 
For Immediate Release: 12/9/2021
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 9, 2021

CONTACT
Julie Naughton, Office of Communications, 402-471-1695 (office); 402-405-7202 (cell); julie.naughton@nebraska.gov

Lincoln – Nebraska's Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney (YRTC-K) substantially exceeded standards in two categories and received standards met ratings in 41 other categories during a federally mandated Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audit. No corrective actions were required.

“Nationally, facilities rarely attain 'exceeds the standard' rating, so to have two for YRTC-K speaks to our team's incredible dedication and professionalism," said Mark LaBouchardiere, administrator of the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS) in the Division of Children & Family Services. “They are caring for our youth in a way that will help them to overcome challenges and optimally function upon their release from the facility, and providing a great service to both the youth we serve and the State of Nebraska. My hat is off to YRTC-K Facility Administrator Paul Gordon and Compliance Manager Shaylee Fortner on this outstanding report. I thank them and their staffs for all their hard work."

“These ratings are an incredible accomplishment for YRTC-K," said Janine Bergerac Fromm, M.D., executive medical officer for DHHS. “I commend Mark and his team for their hard work and dedication to the safety of Nebraska youth."

The audit was conducted on October 19 and 20, 2021, by Candy Snyder, a Department of Justice-certified PREA auditor.

Snyder mentioned that both “exceeds the standard" determinations – compliance and adolescent mental health treatment – recognize efforts she calls “models to the juvenile justice system."

The OJS has a dedicated compliance team that includes a compliance manager and two compliance specialists, who report directly to LaBouchardiere. The team has the authority to develop, implement and oversee the efforts and has the complete support of both the agency administrator and the facility administrator and research and provide training and resources to the facility staff at Kearney, Hastings, and Lincoln (in coordination with the Lincoln and Hastings compliance specialists).

“Your compliance team approach is exceptional," Snyder noted. “Many facilities add the burden of compliance onto an already overburdened staff as an extra duty, almost as an afterthought. Compliance is the one key thing that provides oversight to ensure we run safe, secure and effective facilities for our youth. With the growing compliance mandates that are being added throughout the juvenile justice system – it is near impossible to manage them as an 'extra duty.' In addition, your foresight into ensuring these positions are not loyal to the facility, but to safety and security of the youth as an oversight body for the agency is extremely important."

Snyder added that tweaking and improvements to YRTC-K's screening instrument have made it more objective and easier to score, and requiring a licensed mental health professional to control the screening process is a best practice.

 “The screening is very thorough and conducted by a licensed mental health professional who takes the time to get a clear picture of responses to all this standard's required questions both through a detailed interview with the youth and a complete review of all records," said Snyder. “If a youth identifies a sexual abuse or sexual perpetration history, the screener ensures that appropriate medical and mental health department heads are notified so that a therapist can be assigned and/or medical care provided if needed. This facility's model approach to the special mental health treatment needs of adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system is exceptional and it begins with the appropriate and thorough screening of youth upon intake."

View the report.

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