Friday, April 25, 2014

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Eighteen workers injured by youths at detention facility

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Eighteen workers injured by youths at detention facility
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More than half of the Youth Division Aides at the Taberg Residential Center are out of work after attacks by the youths housed there. Sarah Blazonis tells us about the changes being called for to better protect workers.

TABERG, N.Y. -- Broken bones, a dislocated shoulder and even a concussion are some of the injuries workers at the Taberg Residential Center have brought home with them according to the Civil Service Employees Association. Eighteen of the center's 33 Youth Division Aides are out of work due to injuries suffered at the hands of youthful offenders housed there.

"I was outraged," said State Senator Joseph Griffo about his reaction on hearing that news.

Senator Griffo says his office has tried to get more information from the state Office of Children and Family Services since he first learned of the situation, but officials have not been forthcoming.

The CSEA shed some light on the situation in a statement, saying of the current work environment, "To cover for their fallen co-workers and provide round-the-clock supervision residents require, the remaining aides must work double shifts, making their physically and emotionally draining jobs even more stressful and more dangerous."

Senator Griffo is calling for action from OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrion, including providing better training for workers.

"I think you should look at the level of staffing, you should look at the type of resident that is being assigned there and what the consequence is to those residents that engage in this kind of behavior," said Griffo.

The CSEA blames the attacks in part on OCFS shifting from a correctional model to a sanctuary model, which means less restraints for residents.

The State Office of Children and Family Services says the safety of both staff and residents is a primary concern. The office says that in recognition of issues at Taberg since November, OCFS has deployed senior managers and staff from both regional and home offices to provide the Taberg facility staff with technical assistance and support.

OCFS has since increased training at Taberg. They say most of the injuries identified were sustained during the course of employing restraints, not during assaults by youths.

OCFS will continue to provide staff with increased training and resources to address the complex behavioral and psychological needs of those who require comprehensive mental health and treatment services.

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