What to do with the Girl’s Youth Rehab and Treatment center in Geneva

Nebraska residents joined in with law enforcement and state senators today to offer their suggestions on how to fix the Youth Rehab and Treatment Center problem in the town of Geneva.

An investigation was launched in August after some of residents of the girl’s facility vandalized a sprinkler system left severe water damage.

There were also reports of girls being denied medication or proper programming activities.

“We thought we were going to have a riot is what we thought,” Filmore County Sheriff, William Burgess said.

Local law enforcement suggested harsher penalties for misbehavior.

“Talking to a Senator, he says….One of the kids that assaults someone… have the legislature make it to be a felony if they assault a YRTC staff member. And I said, where have you been all this time, that’s a great idea, but if they’re charged with a felony, it’s in a felony juvenile court, and the ultimate sentence is, back to YRTC,” Burgess said.

Others said the opposite needs to happen – and that the kids should be nurtured, not punished.

“When I’ve got a relationship with those kids, then it works, and that’s what you need in these places here is to develop a relationship. When you have a staff that’s not trying to lord over them and say ‘well how was your day, what’s going on, and I’ll tell you about my kids…’ and once you develop that relationship, you can then turn those lives, but it takes a while for the staff to be trained to understand how to deal with it and create the relationship,” Attorney Frank Heinisch said.

One thing people agree is a problem is under staffing.

Facility officials say rigorous schedules and demands of the job make it hard to hold onto workers.

“We have too heavy of a turnover, not enough staff experience, not enough program experience and I understand that they’ve changed some of the program now and they’re trying to parallel the program in Kearney and Geneva, and hopefully our training will overlap,” Heinisch said.

While there were plenty of ideas, no tangible solutions came out of today’s hearing.

There is another hearing scheduled tomorrow in Kearney.


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