For Immediate Release:
July 1, 2019
Deputy Chief of Communications
Transformation Update: YOI Operating Four Centers, Enhanced Contract Monitoring Begins
DYS making physical plant improvements at all four sites to modernize, better meet needs of youth.
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Today the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) transitioned four of its juvenile treatment centers back to a private company to oversee the day-to-day operations. At the same time, the state has begun a more robust contract monitoring program to ensure the new company is providing safe and high-quality treatment.
“These latest changes are helping us build a stronger foundation for our part of the juvenile justice system in Arkansas,” said DYS Director Michael Crump. “Part of these changes include doing everything we can to hold our new contractor accountable for how they treat our youth.”
Youth Opportunities Incorporated (YOI) won the contract following a competitive bidding process to manage the juvenile treatment centers in Mansfield, Harrisburg, and Lewisville, as well as a facility for those ages 18-21 who remain in the juvenile justice system. The State’s fifth facility, the Arkansas Juvenile Treatment and Assessment Center near Alexander, is managed by Rite of Passage.
The contract monitoring safeguards include more defined performance indicators than historical contracts; increased interaction with the vendor during the onboarding process to help establish expectations earlier; and a new enhanced monitoring team.
The team will make quarterly and annual visits to check on safety, welfare, quality of life, food service, education, programing, and physical plant issues. Additionally, the team will be making ad hoc visits when the agency receives complaints, including through a new email complaint option. The email complaint option is DYSComplaints@dhs.arkansas.gov and also has been posted on the DHS website and is shared with families.
The State also has been making improvements at the four facilities that YOI took over. At the Mansfield center, the State replaced locks as needed, renovated the bunk house for office space, and purchased new beds and other furniture for youth areas. In Lewisville, the State painted all the living spaces and remodeled the showers. At the 18-21 unit, all living spaces were repainted.
The most extensive renovations happened at the Harrisburg center, which was converted to an all-girl campus. The living quarters got new beds, paint, and bathroom renovations. A new walk-in freezer was installed, and a hair salon was added.
The State also is investing more money in community programs for court-involved youth. Starting today, the 11 community programs are receiving an additional $750,000 in transformation funding.
“These investments will give judges more options when it comes to the youth they see in their courts,” Crump said. “And as we continue to improve the system, we hope to provide more funding for community programs because we know its best when we can keep youth close to home.”