Funding Approved for New Hampshire Youth Center Staff – NBC Boston
The number of counselors at the New Hampshire youth detention center has fallen to an all-time high, but the state is preparing to bring in temporary workers soon.
The Executive Council on Wednesday approved spending $847,000 in federal funds to work with an employment agency to bring in 18 temporary youth counselors for seven months.
State officials said while Manchester’s Sununu Youth Services Center had struggled to hire staff in the past, until recently it had been able to operate safely relying on the supply of overtime to existing staff. But in recent months, it has had fewer youth counselors than at any other time, just as the state faces increased demand for child and adolescent mental health care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials said that over the past month almost half of the young people at the facility needed one-on-one or two-way staff to ensure they were not a danger to themselves or others. others.
The center, formerly called the Youth Development Center, has been the subject of an extensive criminal investigation since 2019 and faces more than 100 lawsuits alleging physical and sexual abuse. Over the past two years, more than 430 men and women have brought charges against 150 staff. Their allegations span six decades and 11 former staff members face criminal charges.
Last year, the facility’s average population was just 17 residents supervised by around 90 staff, although it once housed more than 100 young people and employed a larger staff. The current state budget plans to replace it with a much smaller facility by March 2023.