The number of kids staying longer in the Eau Claire Juvenile Detention Center has risen during the last few years, and detention center staff says they need more funding.
The detention center says it needs more staff to deal with these longer stays as well as an increase in self-harm incidents.
The Eau Claire County Juvenile Detention Center has requested an increase in funding for the 2020 city budget amounting to $180,750.
“The longer stays, our population day wise, has gone from nine days per kid to twelve days per kid. So that’s a significant increase.”
Security Detention Services Manager, Rob Fadness, says the length of stay is the main issue.
“Generally speaking it was short term and pre-court,” said Fadness. “A kid would go to court and then essentially the judge would release them and move them onto another placement, whether it was home or somewhere else.”
But Fadness says that has changed over the past few years.
“Placements now have become longer, more indefinite, essentially a lot of kids are waiting for another placement to open up,” said Fadness. “Our average length of stay has increased by about six days over the past couple years.”
Fadness says another reason for the needed funding is to increase staffing.
“We felt it was important to make sure that we were able to fund the facility in a safe and secure manner and that meant making sure we had adequate staffing and making sure we had adequate training,” Fadness said.
The increase in staffing is also to help cut down on incidents of self-harm, something Fadness says has increased.
“There’s a type of anxiety that the youth has whether it’s over the placement or something else, and the way they relieve the anxiety is scratching cutting and so on,” said Fadness.
According to Fadness, this is a typical request as they deal with the rising number of kids in the detention center.
“We’re asked to do a lot with what we have. I think we have five kids that are there for a year and those kids are great, but they require a lot of time and effort. It is just a matter of juggling long term and short term and hoping everything works out,” Fadness said.
Fadness says a lot of long term stays often deal with mental health or other behavioral health issues, and stresses that these are good kids that just made bad decisions, and need a little extra help to get back on the right track.