- Changes at boys home in Mona will hopefully benefit the community
By Myrna Trauntvein
Journey LLC, the home for troubled teens, is undergoing a change in clients that, owners foresee, as being a bonus for the community.
But no matter, for the city has changed its ordinance concerning group homes and residential facilities and the business license process for them and the new facility will need to meet those new conditions.
"Since you have changed your scope," said Greg Newton, mayor, "you would not be grandfathered in."
"We have been in Mona for 13 years. For 13 years we ran a ranch for adjudicated boys," said Madolyn M. Liebing, Ph.D. "But our facility has been empty since December."
The Journey, LLC is the culmination of 37 years of practical experience in working with troubled teens by Liebing, who co-founded the company in 2003.
Liebing, Vicki Goodman, Executive Director of Contracts and Licensing, and Tyler Patching, Chief Executive Officer, met with Mona City Council to discuss the business they are now planning to run.
The state has made a change in their philosophy and, after consideration, Liebing and the other owners, determined to drop the type of youth they were serving and move into another area.
The new clientele will consist of young adults.
"They will be young adults who are there by choice," she said. "They will be private pay and there will be no adjudicated youth in the program."
The Spirit Lake Ranch will help those with moderate behavioral problems and mental health.
"It is not the same population that we have had in the past," she said.
They had let the state contract go for the adjudicated youth. There will not be a problem with runaways, as there had been with the adjudicated youth.
An adjudicated delinquent is a youth who has been found guilty by a judge of committing a delinquent act. The court can commit an adjudicated juvenile or place the juvenile on community control. The judge can formally adjudicate the youth as an initial step before imposing a disposition (a sentence or punishment).
"If they do not want to be there, they can leave," said Liebing. "There will be no reason for them to want to run away."
Those desiring to leave will be taken to transportation to return them to their home.
"We will be dealing with some substance abuse or failure to launch kids," she said.
"We have changed the ordinance," said Newton.
However, Liebing said that all that had changed was the population. The clients were different and that had been done to be thoughtful of the residents of Mona.
Katrina Long, council member, said that the facility would be limited, by the new ordinance concerning group homes and residential facilities, to the number of people that would be allowed.
"Our license is approved by the state for 16 beds," said Liebing.
If the number of beds allowed was restricted, she said, it would not be profitable for them to operate. Staff still needed to be paid and there needed to be enough persons accommodated to make it work financially.
She said that they had tried to make connections with the city and communicate what they were doing but had met with little success. They had tried to work through Molli Graham, council member, and had sent emails.
Graham was out-of-town and was not present at council meeting.
Newton said that the ordinance also now required an inspection prior to the issuance of a business license.
By state law, the facility has to pass state inspections which are quite stringent as to fire codes and other codes assuring client health and safety.
Newton said that the city could accept the state fire marshall's state-required inspection as fulfilling the need for a fire inspection.
Long said that the city ordinance also specified that if there was anyone who had a record of sexual abuse on the premises, there were nearness restrictions. For example, the facility housing that type of individual must be at least 1,000-feet from a school, church or daycare center. There was a daycare provider next door to the boy's home.
"We do not take those and we never did take anyone with a history of sexual abuse," Liebing said. "I would not take them."
She explained that in the summertime, residents were not in Mona. They were in the Unitas at Spirit Lake. In addition, since it was a wilderness program, they spent time camping.
Goodman asked, since they had a state building inspection done recently, if that could not count.
Newton said that the facility would need law enforcement to approve and would need the other Juab County inspections as required excepting for the state fire marshall inspection. That would be accepted.
"Our attorney spent a lot of time on the ordinance," said Newton. "He was careful about the federal Fair Housing Act."
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.
Liebing was given a copy of the ordinance concerning group homes and residential facilities which was passed two weeks ago.
"As a citizen, I feel good about what you are doing to help Mona City," Everd Squire, city finance director, told Liebing.