DYA confinees down; easing of restrictions mulled

Department of Youth Affairs (PNC file photo)

The number of confinees at the Department of Youth Affairs decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, only 12 youths are confined at the youth correctional facility.

Krisinda Aguon, the deputy director of DYA, attributes the decline to the juvenile reform efforts and the stay-at-home orders made by the governor.

Aguon says the youth confined at DYA has declined about 58% in the past year.

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“We are working with all agencies involved such as the Guam Police Department and Probation. The clients that need to be here are here. And we work diligently with social workers to find placement if that is the cause or need for the client instead of confinement,” Aguon said.

While the island made its way to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 3, the Department of Youth Affairs is considering easing some of its restrictions.

With the recent executive order signed by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero moving the island to PCOR 3, the easing of restrictions does not include any public outings.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, public outings allowed the DYA cottage clients to go out to social activities such as beaches, parks, libraries, and resource centers.

Aguon says that outings are under the discretion of DYA and will work to maintain the human traffic in and out of the facility.

She says that safety is a priority.

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“Although we understand that there are practices to ensure that you do not contract the coronavirus, we still want to be careful. I think with children at this age, any parent such as myself would take that into consideration. It’s not to say that we will not be providing these outings, we will definitely be working at the possibility to do so,” Aguon said.

She added that they will soon resume activities with partnered non-profit organizations and religious groups.

Aguon says that they are currently working with Manelu to resume their services with the confined youth such as art, mental health, and career building skills.