Executive Council approves request to address staffing issues at Sununu Center

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Sununu Youth Services Center. Photo/Dave Cummings, New Hampshire Bulletin

Story Produced by NH Bulletin

An increased need for juvenile mental health services and a historic challenge in recruiting youth counselors for the Sununu Youth Services Center has the Department of Health and Human Services looking to a staffing agency for help.

The Executive Council has approved the department’s request to pay Maxim Healthcare in Manchester nearly $847,000 in federal money to provide 18 youth counselors immediately.

The state spends about $13 million a year to run the Manchester center to serve children ages 13 to 17 who’ve been ordered to a secure institutional setting by the juvenile justice system.

While the facility has 144 beds, it has been averaging about nine children a day, according to a September report from a consultant hired to recommend steps for closing the center and transitioning youth to a more appropriate setting.

The department could not be immediately reached to say whether the population has grown. But the mental health needs of residents have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

In its request to the Executive Council, the department said nearly half the children there were in such danger of harming themselves, a single counselor could care for only one or two residents at a time.

The state has looked to Maxim Healthcare for help filling other positions. At its last meeting, the Executive Council approved a separate contract worth $6.34 million in federal money to fill approximately 70 temporary public health jobs.

This story was reproduced with permission under NH Bulletin’s Creative Commons license.


About this Author


Annmarie Timmons

Senior ReporterNH Bulletin

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.