Independant company takes over youth care center

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The day-to-day management of Moffat County Youth Center will be turned over to a professional youth counseling service. Shiloh Home, Inc. The Denver-based company, will take over the center in response to an attempt by the Moffat County Board of Commissioners to get the facility out of the red.

The Moffat County commissioners voted unanimously to consider a possible two-year lease with the condition that a semi-annual review by an advisory committee and the commissioners be held with Shiloh Home Inc.

The commissioners are expected to develop a contract with Shiloh Home Inc. in early 2001.

Shiloh is a nonprofit, residential and day treatment center with 16 years experience in providing services to at-risk youth.

Moffat County began its search for a private youth-care provider for the county-managed facility on Oct. 10, shortly before its doors were closed because it was no longer financially feasible to run the center with the low amount of tenants that occupied it.

Debra Murray, assistant to the Moffat County Commissioners, said the average occupancy rate at the center for the past several years has been between nine and 10 tenants per month, but in the few months before the center was shut down, there were three or fewer tenants. The youth care center was also the subject of some controversy due to incidents involving staff and tenants.

According to Murray, Shiloh Home Inc. may bring in tenants from other parts of the state to meet occupancy rates, but that wouldn't be anything new. The youth care center has taken in young adults from Routt and Rio Blanco counties before. Murray said the commissioners would include a clause in the contract with Shiloh Home Inc. stating that youth involved in gangs would not be accepted.

Ron Richardson, program manager for the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, is pleased Moffat County will continue to have a youth care center and believes the right process was followed and the right decision made in who should manage the center.

"I think it is necessary for the 14th Judicial District and plays a critical role," Richardson said. "Shiloh Home Inc, has an outstanding reputation with Child Welfare Services and the Division of Youth Corrections."

Richardson said keeping a facility in Moffat County will be a huge benefit for the children who use the center and their families.

"I think it was a very good outcome as a result of a good process," Richardson said.

Moffat County received four proposals from professional youth care service companies. The commissioners and a community team consisting of representatives from the county, the school district, mental health services, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, the Moffat County Sheriff's Department, Moffat County Department of Social Services, the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, the Moffat County Probation Department and the city of Craig put their heads together to make the decision.

Shiloh Homes proposes to operate the Moffat County Youth Care Center as a provider of residential and shelter placement, as well as a secure setting for referrals from youth correctional departments. Shiloh Homes proposes to serve only male youth at the Moffat County facility with the understanding that it will operate a separate facility in the region for females if needed.

Murray said some experts thought the reason the youth care center experienced so many difficulties was because the facility accepted girls and boys.

"We think that was part of the problem we had before," Murray said. "A lot of the organizations thought it would be a problem this time also."

The commissioners said there will be a community assessment done during the first year of the lease to determine how the youth care building should be best used after two years.

The building could be used to hold kindergarten classes, a charter school or a recreation center.

People who would like to be on the committee or who have ideas about how the building should be used can call the Moffat County Human Resources Department at 824-9108.

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