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Oct 8, 2011 12:01 AM by Dr. Anya Winslow

Youth numbers in corrections facilities going down

Over the past 5 years, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is seeing a 32% drop in the number of committed youth in Colorado's correction system.

The drop in number also means two corrections facilities, Marvin Foote in the Denver area and Sol Vista Youth Services Center in Pueblo, are closing their doors.

News 5 was going beyond the headlines to discover the reasons behind the falling number, which CDHS attributes to several factors.

"We're providing more up front services to kids and families, such as substance abuse and mental health treatment," says Director of Children Youth and Families for CDHS Julie Krow.

CDHS currently is employing a newer and progressive technique called ‘collaborative management,' which treats youth in a more effective and compressive manner that's tailored to a youth's needs.

Collaborative management means "involving people from multiple systems, such as schools, probation, mental health, substance abuse treatment, the courts, DYC. All of us coming together to work together to provide better services that are more coordinated for children," says Krow.

Another factor contributing to the fall in numbers is the ability to identify troubled youth from an earlier age.

"We hope to identify kids as early as we can. So, hopefully, you know, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old. Identify kids who need services in schools or through the child welfare system," adds Krow also helps prevent youth from going into the adult criminal justice system.

CDHS is happy to see the decline in the number of youth committed in its correction facilities, but seeing a continual decline in numbers is uncertain.

"It's difficult to predict the future. We would be successful if we work ourselves out of a job," adds Krow.

For now, however, eleven other corrections facilities will remain open and the 62 employees affected by the current closures will have the opportunity to move onto other positions.

The 44 youth currently residing at either of the two locations, which will terminate its program, will either be moved into other corrections facilities, are currently scheduled to finish their program, or will transition into lower levels of community-based care or other suitable options.

 

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