The Board of Directors of the Office of Juvenile Affairs met in January at their regularly scheduled meeting. Most prominent on the agenda was a discussion of the budget and the L.E.Rader Center.
Director Gene Christian informed board members the agency has cut all providers by 10 percent and eliminated many programs. Christian also indicated staff furloughs were at 15 days but if additional cuts are ordered, OJA may have to move to the full 23 days allowed by law.
Christian told the board that modifications to the Rader Center ITP unit and the nearest cottage would continue. But he said work on the other four cottages could not be completed because of budget considerations as well as the agency’s need to meet the conditions of the Department of Justice consent decree by July 1. Christian said the center had a population of 94 and the target for July 1, 2010 would be 60.
Outgoing board chairman Gary Taylor expressed concern the cuts were having on the agency.
“The lack of money is dismantling the capacity of this agency to accomplish its mission” he told the board.” Taylor advocated for an OJA Board Retreat to discuss and debate future cuts and recommend a course of action to position the agency to continue its mission.
OPEA met with Director Christian just days after the board meeting.
“We have had a frank discussion with Director Christian about OJA and the future of the Rader Center,” said OPEA Deputy Director Scott Barger. “The options for the agency are slim. The beds at the Rader Center are necessary for the agency to continue its mission but the facility is being engaged in a political struggle. Certainly moving the center to another location in Sand Springs or near the current facility is the best solution; but right now, there are no communities stepping forward to make an offer.
“In the meantime, reductions in the number of juveniles will continue,” Barger said. “Rumors will continue to fly and OPEA will continue to work with the Rader Center Chapter to make certain we explore every option including a new facility which the employees truly deserve.”