Judge Patricia H. Clark
Children and Family Justice Center
Replacing the Youth Services Center
“The water is brown and unfit to drink. The rusty pipes leak. The basement floods and entire wings are shut down due to mold and unsafe conditions. The heating and air conditioning systems barely work.
The waiting room is a bullpen. Families and children summoned to the courthouse are herded into a single large room, where they do not have enough places to sit and there are no private rooms to discuss the most intimate family issues with attorneys."
Outdated facilities to be replaced
The current Youth Services Center's aging facilities, some of which date back to 1952, require increasingly costly maintenance. The facility has almost twice the number of detention beds needed today, while lacking any space for youth and family programs designed to prevent future court-involvement. After estimating the costs of a full renovation and a price tag of over $40 million just to replace the existing facility's core operating systems, the King County Executive, Superior Court and County Council decided that it was time to replace the center altogether. In 2012, King County voters agreed when they passed a levy for its replacement.
Supporting youth and families
The Children and Family Justice Center will replace the outdated Youth Services Center with a flexible and therapeutic facility that provides modern youth and family court services as well as a trauma-informed juvenile detention center. The new facility will provide a respectful and supportive environment to link even more youth and families – court-involved or not – with services and non-profit organizations in their own communities. Construction at 12th Avenue and Alder Street in Seattle’s Central District will begin in 2017. The new center will open in late 2019, and the parking garage is scheduled to open in 2021.
King County is dedicated to best practices in child welfare cases, juvenile court proceedings and juvenile detention. As a result, King County has one of the lowest youth incarceration rates of any urban region in the United States. The County’s youth detention population has declined almost 70% over the last decade with the help of growing alternatives to court involvement and detention.