OYDC to shut down after December

OKEECHOBEE —The Okeechobee Youth Development Center (OYDC) currently operated by TrueCore Behavioral will be shutting its doors this December.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has chosen to not renew the contract for the facility located at 7200 U.S. 441 North in Okeechobee.

“The contract for the Okeechobee Youth Development Center expires in December 2020 and DJJ will not procure services at this program at this time,” said Florida DJJ communications director Amanda Slama in a statement to the Lake Okeechobee News.

Lake Okeechobee News has reached out to TrueCore executives for information on whether employees at the OYDC will be allowed to transfer to one of the company’s 20 other facilities in the state.

The loss of OYDC will be another blow to an Okeechobee economy already reeling from agriculture losses due to COVID-19.

The facility was first privatized back in 1982 by the nonprofit Eckerd Foundation and renamed the Eckerd Youth Development Center. In 2009 the for-profit G4S Youth Services took control of the property.

In 2017, G4S Youth Services was renamed TrueCore Behavioral after being bought by BHSB Holdings Inc. for $56.5 million. BHSB Holdings itself was acquired by the Minnesota-based investment group Spell Capital Mezzanine only a month prior in March 2017.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has created troubles for not only OYDC but also in juvenile detentions facilities across the state. OYDC is currently second in the state for number of juveniles testing positive for COVID-19. As of the DJJ’s July 7 press release, the Palm Beach Youth Academy has more COVID-19 positives among juveniles with 21, followed by the OYDC with 16, though 15 of those who have tested positive are now no longer in medical isolation.

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