The State of Vermont tried several alternatives to the Woodside juvenile treatment center. They all failed. Now the kids are back at the troubled, expensive Essex Junction facility. What next, Phil?
"On March 22, officials decided to repurpose the detention center into a COVID-19 recovery site for adults with mental illness. There was plenty of space available: The building's 30 beds at the time held just four troubled youths. Less than 48 hours later, the Vermont Department for Children and Families shuttled the kids to a hastily converted medical office in St. Albans, rented a nearby hotel room for Woodside employees and installed a new interim CEO, Brenda Dawson, to oversee the so-called "Suite 12" program. The new location was considered temporary, but Human Services Secretary Mike Smith, who approved the move, said he told DCF leaders at the time that he didn't want the youths going back to Woodside — ever. Yet the move only plunged the heavily scrutinized program into further disarray. Suite 12 fell apart in less than two weeks, and a second location in Middlesex also failed. With no private partners willing to take over care of the kids, Smith let the program return to Woodside in May. It will remain there for the foreseeable future as the Scott administration returns to the drawing board. Five youths are currently housed at the center."
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