Lincoln – The last time the American Correctional Association (ACA) audited the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Center at Geneva for compliance with its strict standards, the YRTC received its highest rating ever. Now, three years later, the score was even better. In fact, it was perfect for the first time in its history, which is difficult to achieve.
YRTC-Geneva, which rehabilitates young women 14-18 years old sent there by the court for breaking the law, scored 100 percent compliance on 38 mandatory requirements and 333 non-mandatory measurements.
“This is great news,” said DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips. “The focus of our YRTCs is to provide programs that will help youths find a better path in life so they can live better lives. This outside endorsement of what we’re doing at YRTC-Geneva verifies the positive impact we’re having on young women.”
“We are very proud of the team at the YRTC-Geneva for achieving a perfect rating,” said Matt Wallen, director of Children and Family Services at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “A perfect score only occurs when every staff member is committed to the goals of the facility, the programs and most importantly to improving the lives of the youth. We congratulate our team in Geneva for their ongoing, excellent work.”
“The results of the ACA audit represent our commitment and efforts to improve our service to the youth in our care, and protection of our communities,” said Mark LaBouchardiere, director of facilities. “We work hard every day to give our youth the best chance for a better course in life as productive and law-abiding citizens. This perfect score is a testimony to the daily work, innovation and caring that staff have for our youth.”
“This was no small feat,” said Facility Administrator Dan Scarborough. “From our programs, to our buildings, to the smallest minutia of our work with these young women, the auditors closely examined every aspect of our performance and programs. Receiving a perfect rating is a tribute to the hard work of our team and Geneva community in the interests of these young ladies.”
Three ACA auditors visited the YRTC in August. During their three-day visit, they toured the grounds and visited with team members and youth individually and in small groups. Team members stated that while working with the young women can be challenging, they trust the YRTC-G team.
Auditors met with 25 youth who they said had a clear understanding of processes involved with student rights, and praised recreational opportunities.
Thirty-six team members also were interviewed and expressed good feelings about their roles working with the youth. The auditors noted that staff have patience and care in working with youth. Staff also reported feeling safe at work, and a verbal de-escalation training program has been helpful in working with the youth.
“I’m amazed at the skill set, the talent and the education of your staff,” said Amy Fairbanks, experienced correctional auditor from Michigan. “You overwhelmed me with your professionalism and your choice to be here. You have a solid, consistent staff who know how to treat the client. They exhibited patience, kindness and they are true to your mission to help them get past their troubles and return to the community and be law-abiding citizens.”
“What impresses me is that you’re not so much a reactionary group, as you are in terms of being progressive and think ahead,” said Emmanuel Bradley, also an experienced correctional auditor from Ohio. “That’s what you need in this profession is to try to keep thinking down the road.”
Scarborough said older buildings at a facility can make it challenging to achieve 100% in an ACA audit, such as the 60-year-old Burroughs Cottage. But, the YRTC-Geneva team provides strong support for the buildings as well as the programs, and especially the youth.
He said an internal compliance team led by Nicole Berggren, juvenile justice administrator, helped develop internal quality assurance for the audit. Scarborough added that the Geneva community also plays an important role in the success of the audit at the YRTC. Community Advisory Board members every month eat dinner and talk with the youth to discuss their experiences at the YRTC, which provides some quality assurance. Volunteers assist the youth with community involvement projects that help prepare them for a successful return to their own community.
“This was not an easy audit,” Scarborough said. “The auditors were highly qualified and as thorough as I’ve ever seen in my 37 years involved with ACA audits. This makes our score even more meaningful.”
The final step in the audit occurs Jan. 6th in Orlando, FL, when the YRTC-Geneva team will receive the final report explaining their perfect score.