First, the Texas Observer blog wonders if the Texas Youth Commission can ever be fixed as long as it remains a dumping ground for the failures of schools and the indigent mental health system.
Meanwhile in a bizarre TYC-related development, a tiny West Texas school district struggling to make up lost revenue when TYC closed the Sheffield unit has contracted to provide educational services in Galveston for the "Seaborne ChalleNGe Corps, a military-style program for troubled teens based in Galveston" operated by the Texas National Guard.
Perhaps the agency has been so hard to rehabilitate because its problems extend beyond a handful of troubled facilities or a flawed approach to juvenile justice. Mental health advocates blame public officials’ failure to recognize the importance of early intervention programs within the mental health system statewide as a key culprit.
But, in Texas, a state ranked 49th in the nation for mental health funding, kids in need often don’t get any psychiatric help until they are already deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system. ...
The fact remains, however, 38 percent of its youth have serious mental health problems, and another 72 percent come from “chronically chaotic households” (a condition often linked to later development of PTSD, depression and addiction)—shifting the culture and practices of the agency to meet such a large need takes money, resources and time.
The Iraan-Sheffield school district pursued the arrangements because of revenue lost when the Sheffield unit closed earlier this year, hoping to generate revenue entrepreneurially to make up for TYC's past subsidies to local programming.
Though there's nothing wrong with it per se, this strikes me as an unusual arrangement. I don't know of any other school district providing contract correctional education services outside their own jurisdiction, nor was I previously aware the National Guard ran youth camps. Live and learn.