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Juvenile facility commemorates a decade in new building

by admin last modified Jul 07, 2015 01:33 PM
It’s not the building, but the people who work there, who are responsible for the success of Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF). That was the sentiment shared by current and former staff, who gathered to celebrate 10 years of the program’s current home Wednesday, July 10.

A luncheon, prize drawing and slide show highlighted the commemoration of the anniversary. Former employee Gerald Jenisch was honored for his service at the facility, and staff won prizes by popping balloons with tokens inside.

“We are very pleased that we could celebrate 10 years in this current facility with several retirees, as well as many of our staff that have been here much longer than 10 years,” said Acting Superintendent Wendy Leiker.

“We have a team that is very supportive of each other,” Leiker added. “The excellent staff and the support of the community is what makes LJCF great.”

Juvenile services have been housed in Larned for more than 40 years, dating back to the opening of the Larned State Hospital Adolescent Rehabilitation Unit, which opened in 1971. When the state created a stand-alone agency for juveniles in 1997 – the Juvenile Justice Authority – the Larned facility took on its current name. It was around that time that the need for a new building became clear, said former Superintendent Leo Herrman.

“Once we were moved from (Social and Rehabilitative Services) to JJA, we recognized that we had a need for a facility that could focus on juveniles with mental health and substance issues,” recalled Herrman, superintendent from 1996-2004. “Because of our connection with Larned State Hospital, we were seen as a good fit to house the mental health treatment component.”

Herrman guided LJCF through the transition to JJA. And in 2001, approval was granted for the construction of LJCF’s current building. Herrman oversaw the construction and opening of the building, which was dedicated June 9, 2003. The decade-old building is 132,000 square feet and was built at a cost of $21,725,000.

LJCF can house up to 152 males, ages 15-22 who have a juvenile offender commitment from the state. Mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and educational training are just a few of the areas LJCF prepares the youth for reintegration into the general population.

LJCF employs more than 120 staff, as well as 30 employees of the Larned school district, and its identity is interwoven with Larned and the surrounding communities.“This facility has a reputation for having a high-functioning program with high quality staff,” said Herrman. “A program is only as good as its staff. LJCF has been very fortunate to be able to recruit the high quality of people it has from this area.”

The program has gone through many changes, the latest of which being the merger of the Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) with the state’s adult department of corrections – the KDOC. As of July 1, JJA is now known as “Juvenile Services” within KDOC.

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