Youth Home Neighbors Demand Better Escapee Communication

Neighbors near a youth treatment center say they need better communication from the facility when dealing with escapees.

Previously known as the Muskegon River Youth Center, the Youth Opportunity Center for Success and Independence, has had multiple escapees recently. Those nearby say they wish they had known about the escapes.

The facility has new owners and with them came new clientele. Instead of a type of juvenile detention center, it is more of a treatment facility. Despite having different teenagers in there for different reasons, some of the same issues are popping up.

The center near Evart says they are a place for troubled teens to straighten out and sometimes troubled teens take off.

“It’s been probably five or six times over the years that they’ve escaped and come around,” says neighbor Matthew Hendrix, “We never know about it until after it’s done.”

That’s the problem for neighbors, they understand runaways will happen but they want to know when they do.

A phone call, text alert email or even a loud siren, something to let people nearby prepare.

“Main thing is a way to let people know when somebody has escaped,” says Hendrix, “As soon as possible.”

The facility didn’t want to comment on their runaways but are looking for better ways to connect with the community.

“They may want to figure a way to keep them in there,” says Hendrix, “It seems like it’s been an issue.”

The plan now is for this group of neighbors to head to the township meeting next week to bring it to the township and hopefully force their hand to get some sort of notification system in place.