Over the past several months, Youth Homes has experienced significant problems retaining and recruiting staff at its residential programs. The lack of applicants to fill vacant positions has reached a critical point where we will soon be unable to adequately staff some of our homes. This problem is not unique to Youth Homes, these are unprecedented times that have impacted virtually every residential provider in the state and have stretched an already strained system. In an effort to retain and recruit qualified staff, Youth Homes recently revised its salary matrix to increase wages and offer an array of incentives to attract applicants and keep the ones we have. This is all paired with a generous benefit package and an aggressive recruiting strategy that includes broad posting, radio ads, and university/college outreach.
During the pandemic, Youth Homes was successful in maintaining all services despite the constant challenges COVID presented. Until recently we felt contending with COVID was the greatest challenge we would face and eventually we would return to “normal.” We are now confronted with the reality that the post-COVID period, as stimulus funding hits our communities and businesses open, will likely exacerbate the current workforce crisis we currently face.
After considerable discussion with leadership and program staff, it was agreed that our best course of action would be to consolidate our Shirley Miller Attention Home and our Tom Roy Youth Guidance Home, filling essential vacant positions at Tom Roy and dispatching other staff to fill overnight shifts at other homes.
The transition has already begun with full implementation corresponding with the end of the school year (June 10th). This will allow time for a smooth transition for youth currently in care and an opportunity to blend guidance home and shelter services that will be continually available at the Tom Roy Guidance Home. Youth Homes will also ensure that other shelters have the capacity to accept youth and will provide transportation when necessary.
Recruitment efforts continue, and it appears the number of applicants is gradually increasing, but it is not likely vacancies will be filled to a level that will resolve the current situation in a timely enough manner. We are committed to returning to normal functioning as soon as possible.
This Response Plan to our staffing crisis will offer continuation of ALL services, continuity for youth in care, and provide much needed relief for staff who are stretched to the limit.
Elmer C “Skip” Rosenthal, Executive Director