GREAT FALLS — Every day thousands of young Americans are held in Juvenile Detention Centers. With so many young people moving in and out of these detention centers, some people wonder: what exactly is juvenile detention? Most people think JDCs are simply prisons for criminally-charged youth.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that the services and educational resources these detention centers provide can help to improve their individual situations and better position them for future success.
“While the youth are here, we take every opportunity to fill their tool box full with a number of different things, whether it’s life skills, education, anything that’ll basically help them when they get out of here to be more functional in society,” said Shanna Bulik-Chism, administrator of the Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center.
The Cascade County Regional Youth Services Center is a 24-bed, long-term facility that provides a safe environment for criminally-charged youth, ages 10 to 18.
Kids can stay at the Juvenile Detention Center for just a few hours or days, or up to a couple of years depending on their reason for being there.
The detention center works with kids from all across the state, and provides year-round schooling with two full-time certified teachers.
“We get kids from all over the state, sometimes other states as well, so we accept 5th graders to seniors in high school so most of them are on their own individualized learning plans, so I could be teaching 5th grade science for one kid and then come over here and I’m helping a student with calculus,” said Jake Jarrett, a Great Falls Public Schools Juvenile Detention Center Teacher.
The Juvenile Detention Center also provides therapeutic and recreational services for rehabilitation, like art and pet therapy, nutrition education, physical therapy, game nights, and team building.
They also provide HiSet testing to help their kids graduate from high school, no matter what their educational level is, and have had more than 90 successful graduates.
“Yes, are they here because they are accused of a crime? Sure, but it doesn’t mean that they’re guilty,” said Programming Coordinator for the Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center, Joe Visser. "We don’t treat them like they’re guilty while they’re here, that’s not our job. Our job is to take care of them and help them to grow into people, that’s our biggest thing. Yeah, we have titles, we’re Detention Officers, things like that, but I think more so, we’re their teachers and we’re helping them grow into young men and women.”
The detention center's main goal is to help youth achieve success by providing them with resources to become more productive members of society.
The Cascade County Juvenile Detention Center also provides help and resources to those who have left the detention center and are working hard to get back on their feet.