Advisory board suggested

The League of Women Voters of the Tiffin Area recently announced the completion of a year-long study of the local youth detention center. The membership of the league adopted the position statement at the organization’s annual meeting in May.

The study committee researched Ohio’s minimum standards for local juvenile detention facilities, toured the former and newly constructed local center, conducted interviews of Seneca County Juvenile Court Judge Jay A. Meyer and Ben Yourkvitch, director, Seneca County Youth Center. Information was presented to the league membership in January, and a consensus meeting took place in February. The position statement is written based on members’ responses to the questions. The league will base local action on the position.

The League of Women Voters of the Tiffin Area believes Seneca County should provide a local youth detention center that is safe and secure and with necessary services to promote treatment for juvenile offenders. The league believes placement of youth in the Youth Center should occur only when all other social service and treatment resources have been exhausted. The league further believes the Youth Center director should formulate an annual long-range programming report and a maintenance plan.

The county should provide a youth detention center that meets and exceeds the state minimum standards for local detention facilities with on-site medical health services. Coverage by a nurse should be a minimum of three hours each weekday, with a 24-hour on-call nurse.

The league supports on-site mental health and substance abuse services for the youth and their families.

Staff should have appropriate qualifications for working with youth, and state standards for pre-service and in-service annual training should be maintained. The league believes the salary of direct-care staff and administrative staff should be near average or exceed wages of youth detention facilities in northwest Ohio.

The league supports the establishment of a volunteer lay advisory board, made up of various sectors of the community such as educators, mental and medical care professionals, clergy, parents, philanthropic and service organizations and other interested individuals. The board size should be seven to nine members with no more than 12. The board should meet once a month or at least quarterly.

Responsibilities of the advisory board should include, but not be limited to, assisting with fundraising efforts, and oversight of the long-range programming and building maintenance plan.

The league supports the funding for the Youth Center from a variety of sources, as appropriate, such as the Seneca County’s General Fund, bed contracts, grants and a levy.

The study committee was Shirley Smith, chairwoman; Phyllis Putnam, Teresa Copp, Gene Chintala, Mary Lewis and Brenda Baker.

The League of Women Voters of the Tiffin Area