The state has named a new operator for state juvenile centers. The release:
The Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) has amended its current contract with Rite of Passage (ROP) so that the company will now manage all state juvenile treatment centers in Arkansas.
ROP has had a contract to handle the day-to-day management of the state’s Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center in Saline County since August 2016. The other four facilities in Lewisville, Mansfield, Dermott, and Harrisburg are overseen by Youth Opportunities Investments (YOI). In mid-February, YOI notified DYS that it would not continue with its oversight of those facilities after June 30 due to financial concerns. As a result, DHS presented an amendment to ROP’s contract to the State Legislature today.
The amendment allows ROP to take on the day-to-day management of the treatment centers in Dermott, Mansfield, and Harrisburg. With the center in Saline County, there are 230 residential beds and 20 assessment beds available across all these centers. ROP may use the Lewisville campus to operate a substance abuse treatment program, if funding is available.
ROP will immediately begin working with YOI to transition the centers to new management, with the official takeover date of July 1.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported last month that the state was negotiating with Rite of Passage to take over what had been a seven-year $15.7 million annual agreement with YOI. It reported then:
Rite of Passage submitted a bid for the contract in 2019 but lost it after officials reviewed the firm’s history of operating juvenile-offender jails in Colorado, including allegations that the company placed children in unsafe conditions with abusive guards.
The company has said it remains in good standing with Colorado. It still manages Ridge View Academy, a school and treatment center for juvenile offenders in Watkins, Colo.
The state has been trying to move youths from the centers to community programs. That has reduced populations.
A lawsuit was filed in January naming Youth Opportunities. It alleged abuses at the Lewisville center.