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Intakes suspended at DCYF juvenile facilities due to safety concerns over rising numbers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — On July 5 the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families announced they were suspending intakes at their juvenile rehabilitation facilities. They are concerned over rising numbers that could compromise safety.

DCYF operates two youth facilities, Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie and Green Hill School in Chehalis.

DCYF says that more young people are being sentenced to longer periods, filling up their youth facilities faster than expected.

“When too many young people are concentrated in small spaces it can escalate behaviors and limit the ability for therapeutic rehabilitation,” says DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter.

“The population at Green Hill went from 150 in January 2023 to 240 in June 2024, which is 30% above capacity,” DCYF said in a release.

“This was not sustainable. Our facilities must be safe, therapeutic, and functional,” said Hunter.

To immediately address these concerns DCYF has added staff at both facilities.

DCYF is also working to reduce number by transferring eligible offenders to minimum security options.

When juveniles are arrested, they go into county detention facilities where they are housed until sentencing, if they are not released on bail. After sentencing youth are taken to the DCYF youth facilities.

Now after sentencing youth will be staying at those county facilities until populations are reduced at the DCYF facilities. DCYF will provide funding to county detention centers during the supension.

DCYF says the suspension will remain in effect until populations at the facilities ‘reach sustainable levels.’ It could take months.

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