Juvenile Justice Center head says low pay cause of staff shortage

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-11 18:43:59-04

The Head of the Juvenile Justice Center says his staff needs a pay raise.

The current pay for supervision officers is $14.63 an hour. Nueces County Commissioners are being asked to raise that to $15.34.

The Chief Juvenile Probation Officer at the center says he’s losing staff to higher paying jobs.

When a teenager gets arrested in Nueces County they go to the Detention Center. It’s a short term facility where kids stay for ten to 12 days.

The long-term facility is the Robert N. Barnes Regional Juvenile Facility where kids can be kept for up to a year.

Right now, there are eight open positions at the two facilities.

Homer Flores, the Director of Juvenile Services says "When that happens, it eventually leads to overtime because we have to keep our ratios."

The positions that are so tough to keep staffed are the Juvenile Supervision Officers who watch the kids 24 hours a day seven days a week.

They provide direction, break up fights, and prevent suicide attempts.

Abel Torres is a Supervisions Officer with a rare quality. He’s been at the Detention Center for 20 years, but recently, he’s seen many people leave, and he knows why.

"More money gets them, and they leave for more money," said Torres.

Torres says that years ago, when turnover was low, the officers could build a trusting relationship with the kids and help them to change. He didn’t see the kids come back. But with the high turnover, the officers leave before any real bond can be formed; and the kids come back into the facility because they’ve committed a crime.

"A lot of staff that are new, they don’t have the opportunity to spend the time to make the change, so they come and go," said Torres.

Torres says higher pay would motivate people to stay, and perhaps create a bond with the kids to possibly prevent them from committing crimes in Nueces county.

Judge Lloyd Neal tells KRIS 6 News it’s too soon to tell if he can put the request for higher pay into next year’s budget.