MIAMI COUNTY — The David L. Brown Youth Center, a residential group home for Miami County boys between 12 and 17 years old, is expected to close by mid-November.
The center, located at 291 S. Children’s Home Road in Troy, opened in 1987 and was named after an early director. The center has provided therapy and programming for boys who were struggling with school and delinquency issues.
Miami County Juvenile Court Administrator Andrew Wannemacher explained that, for the six boys still currently housed at the center, “their referring agencies have been contacted to have the boys removed from the facility by Nov. 15.”
The decision to close the center came down to funding. The center charges a per diem rate of approximately $180 per child living at the center and a per diem rate of approximately $50 per day for children who attend day treatment at the center. According to Wannemacher, the number of boys currently living at the facility was not enough to pay for operating costs.
“The census isn’t high enough to be able to pay the cost of operating the center,” Wannemacher said.
The center recently had nine boys at the center, but their average has been housing approximately six boys at a time for the last two years.
Wannemacher explained that, due to several factors, the need for juvenile residential centers has declined over the last 15 years.
“In the late 90’s, they had 20 kids in the center on a daily basis,” Wannemacher said. “It’s a change in juvenile justice philosophy.”
Wannemacher explained that studies have shown that incarcerating juvenile offenders and housing them in residential centers has an “adverse impact on them” and “doesn’t make them less criminal.”
“Currently, studies indicate that any amount of time being removed from a home is negative,” Wannemacher said.
As a result, juvenile court has been sending less kids to residential group homes. Wannemacher added, ”We also have less kids committing less serious crime.”
Wannemacher said that the Ohio Department of Youth Services previously had over 1,000 juvenile offenders in juvenile detention centers and they are now down to under 500. He also added that the number of adjudicated felonies in the state has gone down from the 1990s.
Nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “The juvenile arrest rate for all offenses reached its highest level in the last two decades in 1996, and then declined 68 (percent) by 2015.”
For Ohio, according to Juvenile Justice, Geography, Policy, Practice, and Statistics (JJGPS), the rate of detained juveniles per 100,000 residents between the ages of 10-17 has gone down from 100.6 in 1997 to 80.8 in 2015. Rates were lowest in 2013, with approximately 74.3 detained juveniles per 100,000 residents of similar ages.
“The whole push across juvenile justice is to not lock up or put kids in residential,” Wannemacher said.
The center reached out to other agencies outside of the juvenile court system to house other county kids, such as those from the Miami County Children’s Service Board, but the number of juveniles living there was still too low.
A press release from Miami County Juvenile Court added, “Throughout the 30 years of existence, the program sought to help boys not only learn that education was important, but their behavior had consequences. It is with programming, therapy and the guidance of staff, that the Center was able to make a real difference in these youth’s lives. The Court will sorely miss the Center and what is was able to offer the children of Miami County.”
The director of the David L. Brown Youth Center declined to comment on the center’s closing.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336