Friday, November 02, 2007

TYC training time still half that of adult prison guards

The Texas Legislature this spring required training for new JCOs at the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) to increase from 80 hours to 300 hours, aiming to match the amount of training given by the Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for adult prison guards. But at the Texas Youth Commission, the new 300 hour training regimen includes just 150 hours of classroom time and 150 hours of on the job training, or OJT. I asked a friend at TDCJ if that matched what they did with new recruits and this was the response:
DCJ spends the entire 300 hours in the class room. After that the additional 150 are spent on OJT on their units in the presence of a mentor. That's still not enough to prepare someone with no past in corrections for the job. I have personally seen the trainers at the TDCJ academy push people through that have failed portions of the course. Even the firearms course. They need bodies, and they are pushing anyone and everyone through.
So despite legislators' clear intent (they said repeatedly the amount of training should be the "same as" at TDCJ), TYC still provides much less training for its new staff than the adult system, even though arguably there's more to learn to work effectively in a juvenile setting. For that matter, COs in the adult system apparently don't think their own training is adequate.

Like TDCJ, TYC needs bodies; they're hemmorrhaging staff, despite claims to the contrary made to the Legislature, and probably don't feel like they can wait the extra four weeks to provide the amount of training the Lege anticipated. After all, they need to get their overtime SNAFU under control. I get that; understaffing causes a lot of problems. But the decision raises short-term expedience over the long-term best interests of both staff and youth. That extra training was mandated for a reason.


Anonymous said...

This is going to expose what my position is at TYC, but since there are more of us now, maybe I can remain anonymous. I'm a training specialist and training in TYC has always been a necessary evil. Most of the training in the past has been to meet legal liability issues, and cover the assets of the TYC administration. Marty Martin and Cris Burton are working hard to turn this around, and they are making training more meaningful. Still the local administrations are of the mindset that once they meet the required hours, the new people are ready to run a group. Of course, because of the bad publicity we are having trouble getting bodies to man the 12 to 1 ratios required, so they feel justified. Experience is the only thing that can make a staff ready to run a group, and few people are ready to work solo with less than 6 months experience. What is happening is that if they are left alone with the students too soon, so they are trained by the students. That leads to manipulation and inappropriate relationships. It's all a catch 22, but more time in the classroom is not the answer. More time being supervised by quality trained supervisors is the answer, but not possible in the forseeable future.

Anonymous said...

I went through PreService Academy when we were required 84 hours of Preservice classroom. And 48 hrs of OJT.

Floyd Hall and the trainers made a presentation at the following Legislature to increase the PreService academy to 160 hrs. to match other states. The Lege in its infinite wisdom reduced PreService to 40 hrs, inserted 40 hrs of ReSocialization (which was usually less than 36) and called it even. Now they are seeing the wisdom that Floyd and his coworkers were talking about in 1995.

Like our Lege, they are again a decade late and $10 million short.

Anonymous said...

Why were all the CO trainers RIF if there is such a need for training? What was the logic behind this?

Anonymous said...

Training in TYC has always been a joke. Anyone who thinks that the current staff development crew is doing anthing to "turn things around" needs to share whatever they're smoking with the rest of us. I've reviewed the current crop of lesson plans and they are mostly a re-hash of the same old CYA trash that has typified TYC training since the Ron Jackson era. Training has become little more than 80 hours of war stories and other assorted bullshit presented by trainers (and I use the term loosely) who are, for the most part, burned out case work and JCO staff with little or no aptitude for or understanding of the critical role that training plays in having and maintaining an effective operation. It is also a critical part of retaining quality staff. There is, and has always been a direct correlation between a lack of meaningful, progessive, on-going training and turn over. Give staff the tools they need to be successful and they'll stay around. Throw them to the wolves with no hope of being successful and "shazam!" you have TYC as it exists today. And the previous posters are right, you do need quality trained supervisors to get new staff up to speed, but it's not possible when, because the of the lies being told on a daily basis about the 1:12 ratio, these supervisors are working the floor to make coverage. The OJT they provide is little more than pencil whipped lies for that very reason. Another in the never-ending series of examples that serve a testimony to the ineptitude of Dementia and her gang to TDCJ thugs.

Anonymous said...

More training? Get real! In six months several of the state schools won't be in existence because there won't be any staff.

JCO’s are exhausted! Staff that are off won't answer their phones to help provide coverage, the only thing that is helping to keep staff is the overtime pay. If that is taken away then NO one will be working overtime unless they are stuck at work with no relief and they can refuse to stay or quit their job. Then where are we?

Most JCO's will not be able to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with their families unless it is their regular day off because of staff shortages. In previous years they got one or the other off. I guarantee you none of the "administrators" will miss their holiday off with their families. No one in Austin or a Superintendent, Asst. Superintendent. or Program Specialist, or case manager. Don't think the JCO's don’t notice it and aren't resentful about it.

Most JCO's are caring people who selected their job not for the money (good thing) but for the chance to help a child.

A lot of promises were made to the legislators that can't be kept. Unfortunately those promises are killing the JCO's morale.

So many JCO's with eight, nine, ten years of TYC service are actively looking for new jobs.

One way to help would be to be able to count the "new hires" in the ratio after they return from the classroom training. The requirement would be that they could only be used in the count is that they were working directly with a JCO IV, V, or VI. Never with a JCO I or II.

A safe secure environment cannot be provided by people who are mentally and physically exhausted. Most JCO's are proud of the jobs they do and where they work but morale is so low that even they are giving up.

The bureaucrats, not just TYC bigwigs but lawmakers too, need to get from behind their desks and go into the field and talk to JCO's. There's where you will find your solutions! Only problem with that is…retaliation…it is very much alive and well in TYC!

Anonymous said...

The problem with any training is the current JCO staff shortage. Regardless of what we think is the level of training needed, it is not going to happen in an effective manner until there is enough staff to allow time for the training.

Howard A. Hickman

Anonymous said...

TYC mirrors TDCJ now

The inmates are running the facilities.

Anonymous said...

I have made this suggestion before, but will make it again in the current context. I suggest we hire staff, give them the same basic training current staff have, albeit with more emphasis on the good stuff, have OJT and get them started. When they earn JCO II, give them more training based on what they have observed and participated in (e.g. how to run behavior groups); the same at JCO III promotion. At JCO IV, start the training for supervising others and advanced supervision for JCO V's. In the process of training of JCO V and VI, add treatment considerations, team building, etc. The advantage of this formula is we get enough staff soon enough that current supervisors can provide supervision instead of filling in for staff and OJT becomes real. New staff does not become overloaded with information with no context. And, money for training is not wasted on someone who doesn't last just 3-6 months. Program Specialists and trainers will need to hit the dorms to be sure supervision and OJT is actually occuring. It may be desirable to have trainers fill in for JCO V and VI's so they can get the classroom training they need, perhaps during annual block training.
I don't know Marty Martin but so far have not been disappointed in his efforts; Cris Burton has always been serious about raising the standard of care/treatment. If TDCJjr doesn't get us all in jail, perhaps we can do the job in spite of them.

Anonymous said...

10:10 I suggest that sometimes the quality of training depends as much on the intellect of the trainee as the trainer. I agree that the present modules are the old modules cleaned up. We have until December to meet SB 103, but I believe that Marty and Cris are leading some great people to create a new training department. One of the former caseworkers who wrote "Understanding TYC Youth" seems to be very clear in the mission, and I have some hope for the future. "War stories" as you put them are effective ways to illustrate concepts, and I bet if you woke up and participated you could share in the training process instead of criticizing it. You are probably one of the ones doing the pencil whipping, and I bet you think you are a great staff. I beg to differ. You are part problem, not the solution.

Anonymous said...

When the agencies (TDCJ/TYC) are in such a position as they are now with severe staffing shortages, what is the answer? I would suggest that the legde get involved here and spend some money to put these issues on the mend. The two agencies are hiring trash, because thats what they are paying for. These jobs are high stress, high burnout jobs and the lack of direction and supervision are sure not helping much.Sure, there are plenty of hardworking, professional JCO's and CO's out there doing the job,buts it's becoming more rare than ever. If the two agencies could have the budget to increase pay, to require better qualified applicants, maybe the atmosphere would change. Right now, welfare moms and high school age kids are all TDCJ are hiring. Niether are dependable, and most are in it for the wrong reasons. TDCJ spends millions a year to train new staff when these two groups are fired, or they quit pending disciplinary actions.You will only be as sucessfull as the employees you hire to represent you. And in the case of TDCJ/TYC. Thats just not working.

-Backgate Website

Anonymous said...

The TYC problem will not be fixed until someone with some balls wakes up and understands that they have to "take care" of the staff shortage problem. If it takes emergency funding to get OT pay back in motion then so be it.

It all starts with employee moral, if the JCO staff are happy then everything else will fall into place.

You people in Central office need to get off your azz and get out and go to this campuses and see whats going on. You are in the dark on alot problems.

It makes me laugh when I see these double-dippin TDC folks come in and start tryin to make everything like TDC. I even see TDC training manuals on your desk. LOL!

This aint TDC!

Anonymous said...

11/04. 6:29 am - Your comments are a rehash of the Pope-ism that everything wrong in TYC is the fault of those pesky illiterate staff we hire. Perhaps if TYC would make more of an effort to take care of staff, and provide truly meaningful training and a more reasonable wage, the agency could attract and maintain a higher quality employees. And yes, war stories are a valuable tool that can enhance the training experience, but when they become a substitute for "real" traning, that's a problem. Your're the one who needs to wake up, or better yet, get your head out.

Anonymous said...

5:05, who is it now that's head of the agency and who is it that's head of training, and who is it that's not taking care of TYC staff? TDCJ people, who WILL NEVER BE true TYC people. So where exactly is your head?