DCYF Suspends Entries at Green Hill, Echo Glen

July 8, 2024
Young people legs

DCYF suspended intakes at Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie and Green Hill School in Chehalis on July 5, in an effort to stabilize a rising population that is compromising the safety of staff and young people served at the juvenile rehabilitation facilities.

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter notified juvenile, adult, and tribal courts across the state of the decision to suspend intakes at its secure facilities.

This action does not mean juvenile offenders will be released. Instead of entering a JR facility, those sentenced to JR will remain in a county facility until the JR population reaches safe and sustainable capacity levels. DCYF will provide funds to counties to support this.

"When too many young people are concentrated in small spaces it can escalate behaviors and limit the ability for therapeutic rehabilitation,” explained Hunter. "This was not sustainable. Our facilities must be safe, therapeutic, and functional."

More young people are getting sentenced and for longer periods, filling up capacity at JR facilities faster than expected.

Over the last year, Green Hill experienced an influx of young people entering JR that outnumbered releases each week, which along with longer sentences, is causing a rise in population. The population at Green Hill went from 150 in January 2023 to 240 in June 2024, which is 30% above capacity.

DCYF has been addressing concerns over the rising JR population by using community facilities and Community Transition Services; both options involve transferring eligible young people to a minimum-security option.

To address staffing concerns, DCYF deployed contracted security staff to both secure facilities, and additional headquarters staff to Green Hill to add trained staff to the living units to support young people and maintain programming.

DCYF is working on other options to address growing safety issues because of the rising JR population. However, they do not result in immediate capacity reduction.

The suspension will not be lifted until the JR population reaches sustainable levels. Based on current projections, this could take months. DCYF will maintain a waitlist during this suspension to prioritize and manage intakes once the suspension is lifted.