|We Make Connecticut Happen|
CJTS Workers Speak Out
Public Service Workers Criticize OCA for Narrow, Biased Perspective
The following statement was released by Paula Dillon of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 and Paul Lavallee of AFSCME Local 2663, two of the unions representing front-line employees at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and the Pueblo Girls Program. Dillon is a teacher at CJTS and Lavallee is President of the union representing youth service officers, unit leaders and assistant unit leaders.
We at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School have committed ourselves to the highest level of public service for the students and residents here. We are trained professionals dedicated to assisting at-risk young people who have been adjudicated to our facilities and helping them realize their full potential.
Working in a locked environment is stressful and can pose challenges. We believe that we have been successful in overcoming these barriers to provide a supportive and nurturing environment for the youth that reside here. But that part of the story was not included in the OCA’s report and not reflected in subsequent media accounts. An unbiased and truly objective advocate for children would look across the board at all of the services provided and note both the positives and negatives for the young men at CJTS and young women at Pueblo. An impartial advocate would have included success stories and the improvements that continue at both facilities.
Unfortunately, rather than looking at all of the aspects of the facility (educational, vocational, social, recreational, clinical and medical) the OCA focused only on negative examples – the case studies of only a handful of the hundreds of young men who have walked through the doors of the Training School. Even this narrow perspective is flawed – and some facts manipulated to support what seems to be some sort of undisclosed agenda on the part of the OCA. Their criticisms instead center on a single episode that occurred during each youth’s stay at CJTS, rather than analyze each young man’s entire experience and assess if each youth benefitted from his time there.
The OCA report relies heavily on the Kinscherff report that was released just 3 weeks ago, yet fails to include significant information regarding educational performance from that report. For example, Kinsherff stated:
“The educational, special educational and vocational services at CJTS/Pueblo Units are exceptionally rich and strong and reportedly yield valuable outcomes such as improving reading levels, preparing for state standardized testing, and supporting academic and vocational readiness.”
We challenge the OCA to acknowledge and recognize the positive experiences and outcomes that take place at CJTS and Pueblo. At CJTS and Pueblo, students graduate high school, participate in organized sports, have excellent school attendance rate, receive consistent education, and develop academic confidence. Students are motivated to receive high school credit. The vocational programming offers the greatest selection of courses in the state. There is a comprehensive continuum of services that include counseling, medical, recreation, art therapy, music therapy, SAT prep and testing and career fairs. Failing to include or recognize these services in their report is unacceptable.
What the OCA should be advocating is to improve upon existing programs and services that have to date proven successful. We would recommend a fairer and more balanced investment in Connecticut’s youth that commits the necessary resources, time, and study to ensure that they do have a greater chance of success. As participants in the successes of CJTS and Pueblo, we look forward to continued improvement and success for all of the residents.
© American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved.
Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from AFSCME.