State moving juvenile girls from Geneva YRTC to Kearney

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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) The state Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday afternoon that juvenile girls staying at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva are moving to the Kearney YRTC.

A DHHS spokesperson said 24 girls were being moved to Kearney on Monday.

This after an incident two weeks ago in which DHHS said a juvenile at the Geneva YRTC damaged a sprinkler system at one of the residential cottages leaving the building unsafe and uninhabitable.

“The aftermath of this incident created a critical situation in the 24/7 facility that has also faced serious staffing challenges,” said Dannette R. Smith, DHHS CEO. “Some of the youth needed to move to an alternative location to help ensure their safety and well being.”

Four youth were moved to the Lancaster County Youth Services Center in Lincoln temporarily and then to the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney.

DHHS has been assessing how we serve the youth in our care, the condition of our facilities, and what changes may need to be made to further enhance safety, programming and outcomes.

DHHS is moving 24 youth currently housed on the Geneva campus to the campus in Kearney.

There are four residential cottages on the YRTC-Geneva campus. The relocation will allow the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to assess needed repairs and upgrades to the two cottages that are closed and the current cottages the girls were living in.

The relocation also gives DHHS the opportunity to refresh the youth program from a clinical and programmatic standpoint.

By allowing DAS access to the campus, YRTC-Geneva will continue its current programming at YRTC-Kearney.
The youth will be housed in a separate, safe and secure area on the Kearney campus. Teammates from YRTC-Geneva accompanied the youth to Kearney including direct care staff, case managers, teachers, mental health staff, and food service staff.

All DHHS 24-hour facilities sent two teammates to help with transition including the regional centers in Lincoln, Hastings and Norfolk, Beatrice State Developmental Center and Whitehall.

“Our goal is a smooth transition to help the girls acclimate to their routine, which includes school, mental health support, structured activities and recreation,” said CEO Smith. “We hope to enhance programming and treatment, and provide an environment that is safe, supportive, and gives youth the opportunity to thrive as they transition from the YRTCs into a successful adulthood.”