Kane County Takes Proactive Steps to Address Mental Health Issues for Juvenile Justice Center Staff
Kane County Connects Staff 3/8/2023 6:00AM
During the past two years, the employee turnover rate at the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) has remained at nearly 50% prompting a new proactive initiative to address the causes leading to resignations.
The Kane County JJC is a regional detention facility for juveniles between the ages of 10 and up to 21 years of age and is responsible for the safe, humane and secure temporary custody of juveniles in the criminal justice system who are newly arrested.
JJC youth counselors are court-appointed officers who are responsible for maintaining the security of the facility; ensuring the safe and secure custody of each resident; monitoring the behavior of the residents; and providing for their physical and emotional needs. Often the juveniles have very troubled, abusive, or chaotic backgrounds and their behavior can be difficult to control and manage. This takes a physical and psychological toll on the staff who do their best to work with the youth in the facility.
The Kane County Board has approved a contract with Family Counseling Services of Aurora to provide mental health services for employees at the JJC. The contract, for $9,900 annually, would include wellness check-ins and individual or group debriefing sessions after critical incidents and particularly stressful experiences have happened on the job.
“I am intimately aware of why we have turnover- we’ve always had turnover,” said Kane County Juvenile Justice Center Superintendent Michael Davis. “We had the police called to our building 40 times, we had 15 staff assaults and typically when these assaults occur we debrief as a group and then get the kids back up for programming,” Davis said
During the wellness check-ins, a licensed professional would discuss a staff member’s current ability to cope with job stressors and healthy ways to handle these and future stressors. During the individual or group debriefing sessions, a licensed mental health professional would help involved staff to emotionally and cognitively process the effects of a traumatizing event.
Given the natures of their work, JJC staff members face threats, assaults and challenges intervening in crisis situations with youth who suffer from significant emotional and mental health issues. “Family Counseling Service has a person on staff who specializes in working with first responders in doing crisis situation debriefings,” Davis added.
Lisa Aust, the Executive Director of Court Services, said she is in favor of these services. “It’s important to take care of our staff. They take care of the residents every day and help provide a safe and stable environment for them as they go through the court system and face the consequences of their actions. It’s about more than just helping our staff because it’s the right thing to do. Taking care of our staff’s mental health helps them to become more resilient and fosters a positive culture that allows our staff to be in a good place to continue to work with the juveniles. Kane County is a great place to work, and when something happens, we want you to feel safe, physically and emotionally.”