ROCKY MOUNT – While mental health and addiction issues plague the state and nation, North Carolina is hoping additional resources and improved facilities for Youth Development Centers will help troubled youth find their path to success.
“Every one of us are born with potential. Some people need two, three, four, or five chances. What you are doing today with people who have really tripped up is preparing them to return to society to be successful and fulfill their potential,” said Gov. Pat McCrory.
McCrory joined government officials, juvenile justice employees, law enforcement officers and community members for the re-opening of the newly renovated Edgecombe Youth Development Center in Rocky Mount on Thursday.
The renovation, updates and re-opening of the Edgecombe facility are part of North Carolina’s Juvenile Justice Facilities Strategic Plan. Adopted in 2014, the strategic plan includes phasing out unsafe and underutilized facilities; expanding facilities that are safer, more secure and more cost-efficient; enhancing support operations; continuing to provide treatment and education rooted in a cognitive-behavioral approach; and reinvesting cost savings into community based programs.
“We have a great opportunity each day to make a difference in the lives of folks we work with, the ones who find their way here, or the ones given to us by the courts,” said Commissioner W. David Guice, Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.
As part of the renovations, the Edgecombe Youth Development Center is now a safer and more secure facility with an increased bed capacity, all of which is at a lower cost. At the facility, youth spend their days surround by a therapeutic model of care which incorporates interactions, group therapy, education and treatment.
“We need to convince the public of the incredible challenges we have in this state and nation,” said McCrory.
“We need to educate the public on the mental health and addiction issues,” he added. “We have to start communicating about it – tell your Rotary clubs, neighbors, church groups.”
Without discussing the issues publically and finding ways to battle against the rise of drug use, society leaves itself open for an increase in criminal activity, drug abuse, and self-destructive behaviors, said McCrory.
“We’re working with youth to develop skills they can take into the community when discharged that will prevent them from coming back here. We’re helping them learn to make better decisions and better choices,” said Equan Glenn, a youth counselor with the Chatham County Youth Development Center.
To help, McCrory has allocated $30 million of his recently released budget towards implementing recommendations from the Governor’s Taskforce on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.