AbraxasYouth Center

AbraxasYouth Center

People searching for a job in the Juvenile Justice system should never apply for a job at this facility. The facility is not a healthy environment for staff or children. This company is truly a “cash for kids” company. The bottom line is money and it’s very noticeable when you walk through the front door. The Detention and Shelter units look like everything was bought at a yard sale. The director will from time to time buy a new chair and expect you the praise him to the hills for doing such a wonderful job. The clothing issued to the clients is raggedy and most of the time reused. The children are provided a large community tub of A & D ointment that is placed in the bathroom for all to share. This is both unhealthy and gross. The kids dip fingers and little torn up pieces of paper into the community tub then apply it to their lips and sometimes face and hair. The facility even reuses and refills shampoo bottles that are provided to the children upon intake. The bottles are usually brand name such as Dial but are refilled with generic all in one body wash. This may not be a band thing but the staff does not wash the refilled shampoo bottle before the redistribute to the next child upon intake. | The children also act like typical teenagers from time to time and when they break rules they sometimes get the 55 and 5 rule. The 55 and 5 rule is a punishment where children have to stand for 55 minutes and then they get to sit down for 5 minutes. This punishment goes o until the unwanted or adolescent behavior stops. I have to give it to some of the local counties that have heard of this treatment and have requested it be stopped. The staff also get punished by was of the 6 to 1 ratio rule. The AYC staff is told they will work together as a team with a minimum of 3 staff per unit but in many cases only one staff member is left alone on units with more than 14 kids. This is not intentional but happens when the supervisors need to step off the units. So if you are not a supervisor then be ready to carry the load and be ready to be left alone or sometimes with another clueless staff. | The job itself is very stressful and will not help you prepare for a real job in human services. This is a behavior modification program with an emphasis on challenging children to better control anger or acting out behaviors. The staff receives training for the first two weeks but none of it applies to the job. It’s more like a check the box for required trainings than a preparation for the reality of the job. It is a cool place to work if you like wrestle with children from the ages of 11 to 18 years of age. The staff has many different ways of restraining the kids and sometimes it’s funny or bullying. I was told this is called mirroring or another way for staff to act like the child and say or restate what the kids are saying. For example if a child says “FU” the staff get to say “ok F me F me that will help you get off the floor”. This is not very therapeutic but it’s entertaining if you are into that sort of thing. The work schedule sucks and be ready to have the facility director chase you down the hallway and ask you to work extra shifts or to change you existing schedule. It’s so sad and you would think that a director would have more class or self-worth. He looks ridiculous and all the staff makes fun of him running down the hall as he attempts to fill the schedule holes. He needs to give that stuff up! Don’t you think the director of a facility should focus on more important tasks? He has fellow managers that are able to do scheduling. He must not have anything else to do or he likes having people make fun of him. In fact he is probably the reason that retention is so bad staff probably get sick of him asking them to rearrange plans to meet scheduling needs. | The supervisors are self-absorbed bullies that make ridiculous statements and request during staff meetings. Just last week they instructed staff to watch their “tone and volume because OCYF was in the building”. I think they meant for us to not yell at the kids while a state licensing agency was in the building investigating an abuse allegation. Yelling is at children is an everyday occurrence that from time to time will result in a sharp look from a manager but for the most part the supervisors are ok with it. The program does a really good job of covering themselves by making the staff attend trainings that look good on paper but are meaningless. | The supervisors are required to meet with all staff for a 30 minute monthly supervisory conference but they never do. On several occasions I have had a supervisor walk up to me and give me a piece of paper that I am required to sign that had notes on it. The notes were supervisory conferences for 3 or 3 months past. So basically the staff is provided little to no real training or hands on experience. This is due to the importance of the supervisors and their need to be behind closed doors away from the children. | Staff members that excel in this program usually do a good job of addressing clients and restraining them. The physical part of the job is very demanding and can stress most people out. There is very little room for a therapeutic opportunity to make a difference with these children. Most of the time is spent running a watered down boot camp. “step in, step out, head eyes straight forward, and walking in correct formation” is the bulk of the work. So be ready when you tell that 14 year old child that he is doing it wrong or to do it again! Things escalate very fast in this environment and the next thing you know you will be restraining a child over failure to “walk correctly or talking in line”. I once saw a 10 year old in the Shelter program get restrained for 30 minutes because the adults could not deescalate him. The child was 10 years old and held for 30 minutes by grown men and women. The child was out of control and I guess it was ok because staff was never told differently by management. | These are just some of the things to expect when you sign up to work at The Abraxas Youth Center located on South Mountain PA. The place looks creepy on the outside and watch your step because security has found several live ammo rounds as well as bullet casings on the road and walking paths.

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