By GREG SCELLIN
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has made several changes in how youth are being served at its Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers (YRTC).
“The aftermath of this incident (the damaging of a cottage by sprinklers being turned on by disgruntled residents on August 10 at the Geneva YRTC) created a critical situation in the 24/7 facility that has also faced serious staffing challenges,” said Dannette R. Smith, DHHS CEO.
In an initial step to resolve this situation, four youth were moved to the Lancaster County Youth Services Center in Lincoln temporarily and then transferred to the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney. DHHS later moved the additional 24 youth that were housed on the Geneva campus to the YRTC campus in Kearney.
There are four residential cottages on the YRTC-Geneva campus. The relocation will allow the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to assess needed repairs and upgrades to the two cottages that are closed and the current cottages the girls were living in.
In a phone interview last week, 32nd Legislative District State Sen. Tom Brandt said he feels a lot of the damage to the cottages in Geneva is superficial.
“I think this thing has gotten blown up,” Brandt said. “It’s clear, we have a problem, and we need to get it cleared up as quick as possible. I will lead the charge to get this back open quickly.”