Kewanee Dismisses Location As Cause Of Youth Center Staffing Sho - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Kewanee Dismisses Location As Cause Of Youth Center Staffing Shortage

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The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice says it has tried for over a year to fill vacant mental health positions at its Kewanee Youth Center.

A watchdog group just released a report critical of the staffing levels there.

Saying the state could not meet its obligations to mentally troubled boys.

Both the private report and the state point to Kewanee's location as a potential factor in the inability to hire staff.

Traveling to Kewanee does take some time, it's not a city that's located right off a major interstate. The city believes its location is a hub, and its location shouldn't be used as an excuse to not take a job here.

"It's easy to shift the blame to a town being too small but people are available to work and wanting to work," says Kewanee Mayor Bruce Tossell.

He dismisses the idea that his city's location impacts the state's ability to hire professionals. He can name the distances to the highways, 10 miles to I-80, 24 to I-74.

"There are people that will travel a great distance to work at any of these facilities there are people that travel to Joliet to work and the reverse happens here," says Tossell.

He says many of the youth center's employees already commute from around the area. He doesn't understand why Kewanee's spot on the map would become an issue now.

"It does add money to the community even for the people that drive to Kewanee to work here, they spend some money in town so we definitely don't want to lose it," says Tossell.

"When I saw the advert in the paper I said I know this place let me apply just for the fun of it," says Pharmacist Taylor Odumowu.

He moved here from Chicago a month ago. He has family here, but understands why newcomers may hesitate to take a job here.

"They are afraid of what they're going to have there in the community, since it's a small town, they might think oh we're not going to have a good opportunity," says Odumowu.

The state says the lack of interest and a hiring freeze have made filling these positions difficult. However it says it will fill one position next week and will repost five other openings immediately.

The agency has also added extra group therapy sessions to make up for the lack of staffing.