Working Iowa: Linn County Youth Detention Center in need of intervention counselors

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 8:19 AM CDT
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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Jordan Moore has been a youth counselor at the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center for about 2 and a half years. She works with many of the youth who come through the doors.

“We play board games, we get to talk about life,” she said. “[We] help them navigate what their situation is, give them advice, listen to them, engage them in things they may not know, like career exploration, resume building, different things that they may not have gotten outside their life.”

Moore initially wanted to go into nursing, but she later learned her calling was in juvenile delinquency.

“You get to work with kids that don’t necessarily ask you for help in the way that you need, but they’re definitely asking,” she said. “I enjoy having the time to sit with those kids that don’t have somebody that they’ve had the chance to be mentored by or somebody that they’ve had a positive relationship with.”

The detention facility is looking to increase its staffing. The average term of an employee is typically 12 years, but staff members say there are have been some retirements that have contributed to that shortage. Director Dawn Schott says open positions include intervention counselors. At times, positions could also include youth leader positions, youth worker positions, intervention counselors and trackers.

“The youth counselors work hands-on with the kids, from beginning to end of shift, maintaining safety and security and meeting the needs of the youth that are here,” Schott said. “Trackers are in the field, working with youth, making sure their home when they’re supposed to be home...that they’re going to school, that they’re taking drugs screenings, just making sure all is going well at home.”

Schott says a number of positions require a four-year degree, preferably in the human services field.

“We’re not a preschool or a daycare center, we’re working with high-need kids,” she said. “You’re going to come in working nights, weekends and holidays. That’s where everyone’s going to start. I think that’s a that people don’t understand that and it makes work-life balance difficult.”

Moore says her favorite part of the job is actually getting to work with the kids.

“It’s the most rewarding thing, when you see a kids that’s been discharged in Walmart or just around town. They’re running up to you, just to tell you how they’re doing and what they’re doing’s the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.

Moore, who started as a youth leader, said asking questions and having confidence is key to working here.

“Be sure that you know what you’re doing. Have confidence in what you’re doing because if you don’t have confidence and the kids can see that, it’s not a good sign,” she said.

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