KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services plans to install a permanent fence around a state-run youth treatment center that has had four escapes this year, according to officials.

The Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center campus in Kearney had 17 escapes last year and 36 in 2016, according to Mark LaBouchardiere, the health department's director of facilities.

"A majority of the facilities around the country who house high-risk youth have a fence," LaBouchardiere told The Kearney Hub . He didn't provide details on the cost of the fence.

More than 50 community members attended a Wednesday meeting as part of an interim study to improve safety and security at the Kearney youth facility and another in Geneva.

State senators at the meeting raised concerns about the Kearney center's turnover rate, staff views on facility conditions, worker's compensation claims, the average tenure of employees and a recent survey on the facility's climate.

Sen. Merv Riepe, who chairs the state's Health and Human Services legislative committee, raised concerns regarding youth attacking staff.

There have been almost 100 such assaults so far this year, LaBouchardiere said. There were 145 assaults in 2017 and 251 in 2016.

The decline has likely been caused by the increase in the number of staff members located in the living units as well as an emphasis on deescalating techniques, he said.


Information from: Kearney Hub,