Delegate Eldridge, who has a master’s degree in counseling and a license in social work (LSW), spent the day interviewing employees of the facility and reviewing its files. Upon the completion of his visit, he was dissatisfied with his findings and will recommend action be taken by members of the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jail and Correctional Authority during the May Interim Session of the Legislature.
“I was astonished to find the facility was lacking essential staff members,” Eldridge said. “There were no licensed social workers, psychologists or counselors on site. The children in the facility absolutely needed licensed professionals on hand to speak with. Such employees are essential to the makeup of a fully-functioning juvenile center.”
Delegate Eldridge also was alarmed to discover none of the employees at the facility had been trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Such training is required for employees who must restrain unruly children and then process them after de-escalation.
“This is a state-run facility,” Eldridge said. “If employees without proper training or licenses at this juvenile center are inefficiently restraining children, the state could be held liable.
“These discrepancies are at the mercy of the taxpayers’ expense,” Eldridge continued. “We are paying for a center that is ineffectively staffed and maintained.”
Eldridge, who serves on the House Education Committee, spent much of his time during the 2005 Regular Session of the Legislature introducing and sponsoring bills designed to enrich children’s lives.