Most industries have been understaffed from the onset of the pandemic. The juvenile system in Texas is now one of them. Judge Blackburn and one Central Texas resident and advocate both feel it's a problem that needs to be addressed urgently.
“You have a high turnover rate...you have that high turnover rate because they’re underpaid, they’re understaffed," said Lolita Gilmore with Teach Them To Love Outreach Ministries.
Judge Blackburn shared with 25News the details on Central Texas' Juvenile system and its specific staffing needs.
“Today we have 22 staff vacancies at our facility out of a total of 100 staff," said Blackburn.
That's below the authorized staffing levels he shared and as a result, Central Texas is in the same boat with the rest of the state when it comes to being short-staffed in this field.
What fixes the problem? Gilmore said it's going to take a village.
"We need to come together and establish an effective youth rehabilitation program, and what does that look like? It looks like we will have to have family advocacy centers around here, children without placements; these are the children that you see that tend to go to the juvenile center because they don't have the support," she said. "They've been traumatized, they have no place to go, they've been abused, isolated...the system has failed them drastically."