West Liberty, Breathitt, Fayette, Pulaski juvenile facilities earn honors

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lt. Governor Jaqueline Coleman and Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Vicki Reed held a virtual awards ceremony Wednesday to honor and recognize 62 staff members, individual community offices and facilities who serve the commonwealth’s at-risk youth population.

During the ceremony, Lt. Governor Coleman thanked the award recipients for going above and beyond for the commonwealth and the youth they serve, particularly during a year where many personal and professional hardships surmounted.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many obstacles and challenges, particularly to those working in congregate settings. This awards ceremony recognizes DJJ staff who have risked their health and safety for the betterment of the commonwealth’s’ youth,” said Lt. Governor Coleman. “These sacrifices and displays of teamwork made by DJJ staff exemplifies what being part of Team Kentucky is about, and I am honored to be able to thank the staff for their hard work and congratulate the award recipients.”

With almost 1,000 employees, DJJ serves the state’s justice-involved youth by providing the care, education and skills set they need to become successful citizens. As of today, a total of 238 youth are in the custody of DJJ at the Regional Juvenile Detention Centers, Youth Development Centers and Group Homes. Additionally, 258 youth are being monitored by DJJ while under supervised placement in the community.

At the onset of the national pandemic, DJJ implemented aggressive preventive measures to protect the safety and security of all staff and youth residents and meet the compelling public health challenges of COVID-19. All efforts made by DJJ were implemented with guidance from the Department for Public Health.

Preventative measures implemented in response to COVID-19, include; limiting the transfer of youth throughout the agency, increasing sanitization protocols, screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms twice daily, mandating face coverings and implementing social distancing.

Staff used virtual technology for youth to interact with their family and loved ones more frequently than previously available through in-person visitation. Youth appeared virtually for court appearances.

In June of this year, DJJ reopened in-person visitation for vaccinated family and friends; however, virtual visits continue for anyone interested.

In an effort to save lives and protect the health of staff and youth, DJJ recently entered into a partnership with Wild Health for COVID-related services with a goal to increase vaccination participation and respond to the rapid spreading delta variant of COVID-19.

Wild Health will be providing vaccination on-site to facility staff and youth 12 and older, upon request, in addition to periodically testing youth and staff at all DJJ state-wide facilities.

They will also provide intensive support and testing in the event of an outbreak. Wild Health will routinely provide educational seminars to the staff and youth on the benefits of receiving their Shot of Hope. Wild Health is providing all services to DJJ free of charge.

This past year, DJJ staff were committed to enhancing public safety and reducing recidivism through quality educational opportunities.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, 52 youth graduated from high school and an additional 6 youth earned a GED, while in the custody or care of DJJ.

Youth residents earned a total of 142 vocational certificates during the 2020-2021 academic year. Vocational opportunities available include: Building and Apartment Maintenance/Carpentry, Building and Apartment Maintenance/Electrical, Welding, Masonry, Horticulture, Business, Computer Training, Fiber Optics, Copper Cabling, Home Audio, Energy Management, Telecom and Grounding and Bonding.

DJJ Commissioner Vickie Reed, appointed by the Gov. Andy Beshear on Aug. 16, praised the agency’s personnel for going above the call of duty to ensure youth in Kentucky’s care have the right tools and resources to succeed and improve their lives.

“Today, we honor the DJJ staff who are working hard to reduce youth crime and recidivism,” said Commissioner Reed.  “From connecting with youth and families to ensure their safety and well-being to volunteering your time and services to other facilities in need, your efforts have positively changed the lives of your co-workers and the youth you serve.”

DJJ strives to promote a comprehensive array of cost-effective services for at-risk youth. These services are directed toward preventing delinquency, providing efficient rehabilitation services, and altering the rate of recidivism with appropriate aftercare while minimizing risk to the community.

The 2021 award recipients include:

Youth Development Center of the Year was awarded to Woodsbend Youth Development Center located in West Liberty, KY. Over the past year, Woodsbend Youth Development Center staff have volunteered to assist neighboring facilities in areas of maintenance, cooking, transportations and floor coverage to make sure the needs of the youth were met.

Detention Center of the Year was awarded to Adair Regional Juvenile Detention Center located in Columbia, KY for showcasing outstanding abilities in providing services for the entire state’s high-level at-risk youth.

Group Home of the Year was awarded to Ashland Group Home located in Ashland, KY. In the last year the Ashland Group Home went above and beyond to assist the department while maintaining a safe and supportive environment for residents.

Day Treatment of the Year was awarded to Breathitt Day Treatment located in Jackson, KY. Even with school being virtual for much of the last year, Breathitt Day Treatment staff continued to offer an outpouring of support for their students and community.

Community District of the Year was awarded to the Community District East 2A office (Fayette County) due to their initiative in providing services beyond job expectations.

Community Employee of the Year Central Region was awarded to Dr. Julie Barber, Psychologist Licensed Program Administrator of the Mental Health Branch serving Jefferson County.  Dr. Barber continues to display initiative to take on new projects for the Department.

Community Employee of the Year East Region was awarded to Keith Goggins, Social Clinician I from Fayette Community Office.  Mr. Goggins is being honored for his  is very dependability, reliability, loyalty, and willingness to go the extra mile for not only youth but also his co-workers.

Community Employee of the Year West Region was awarded to Amanda Grant, Social Clinician I from Hopkins County Community Office for her work   at collaborating with community partners and obtaining resources for her clients and families she serves.

Community Employee of the Year Southeast Region was awarded to John Langford, Social Clinician I from Pulaski County Community Office for his extensive work with outside entities to determine the most effective case management and treatment options for the youth on his caseload.

Facility Supervisor/Manager of the Year for Day Treatment was awarded to James “Jimmy” Stivers, Youth Program Service Supervisor from Breathitt Day Treatment for his unparalleled work ethic and being an important part of the success at Breathitt Day Treatment.

Facility Supervisor/Manager of the Year for Detention was awarded to Curtis Samuel, Youth Worker Supervisor from Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center for his ambition to step forward taking on the difficult and arduous jobs and striving to do the best job that he can.

Facility Supervisor/Manager of the Year Group Home was awarded to Michael Mullins, Youth Program Service Supervisor from Ashland Group Home.  Mr. Mullins has proven to be an excellent supervisor and role model for the Ashland Group Home.

Facility Supervisor/Manager of the Year Youth Development Centers was awarded to Julie Curvin, Youth Program Service Supervisor from Mayfield Youth Development Center for her outstanding supervisory skills  and work to serve the committed female population within DJJ.

The Hero Award was given to those staff that had went above and beyond during the last year.  Those awarded were Shane Hedrick, Gary Haines, John Harris, Amber Wells and Dr. William Heffron.

For a complete list of the award recipients, click here.

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