I am a youth security specialist II at the Hastings Juvenile Chemical Dependency Program at the Hastings Regional Center.

HRC is losing its 24-bed juvenile chemical program.

The program is being moved to Lincoln’s White Hall where there will be only eight beds.

White Hall currently houses 16 juvenile sex offenders but will drop to eight beds.

The new structures now on HRC campus will eventually house 24 female youth with behavioral issues.

I say eventually because there has been a bill passed in the Legislature that keeps the girls from moving to HRC until a study can be completed to determine what is best for all juvenile programs.

The problem is the head of DHHS, Danette Smith, spotted an error in the bill not securing the male juveniles at HRC.

Against the intent of the bill, which was signed by the governor, she is moving the chemical dependency unit to Lincoln on Oct. 1.

HRC staff will then be mandated to work at YRTC Kearney to bolster their depleted staff.

Assaults and 16-hour shifts have most Kearney staff quitting or looking for other employment. This is not unique to Kearney.

HRC has sent staff to Lincoln Regional Center, Geneva and Kearney because of staffing shortages.

Mark La Bouchardiere oversees those facilities along with White Hall.

My question is why does an appointed position such as the head of DHHS have more power than state, county and city officials put together?

If Gov. Pete Ricketts will come out of hiding on this issue, maybe he can enlighten us all.

Wayne Erickson



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