Some committee members expressed doubt a replacement of the Sununu Youth Services Center could be in place before March 2023. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)
The study committee charged with developing a plan to close and replace the Sununu Youth Services Center will meet for the first time Tuesday, although it’s unclear whether members will have a consultant’s draft recommendations that were due in July.
According to a $55,000 contract the state Department of Health and Human Services signed in July, Alvarez and Marsal Public Sector Services was to provide a juvenile justice expert to review the state of the center and deliver a draft closure plan by mid-July, with a final report due by August. Asked for a copy of the draft report, department spokeswoman Kathleen Remilard sent a statement by email saying the department began working with the expert prior to the passage of House Bill 2, which created the study group, and will submit a report to the committee in September.
“The consultant and the department have partnered with a work group of stakeholders to develop the report and recommendations, including conducting outreach to additional stakeholders for their input on the future of secure residential care in New Hampshire,” she said. “Given (the subsequent creation of the study group), the department will submit the report with stakeholder recommendations to the legislative commission by the end of September.”
Remilard said the study group is expected to make a final recommendation to the Legislature later this year. House Bill 2 requires the group to prepare legislation for the next session to carry out the recommendations.
State lawmakers and juvenile advocates have long wanted to close the center, believing a youth detention facility is the wrong place to hold and rehabilitate children. The study group includes three Republican House members and two senators, one from each party.
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