Bevin announces pay increases for state youth workers

By Adam Beam - Associated Press

LEXINGTON (AP) — More than 400 workers at Kentucky’s Juvenile Justice facilities are getting raises of up to 20 percent.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin announced the raises Thursday at the Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Juvenile Justice Commissioner Carey Cockerell said the increases will cost about $2 million per year and will affect 420 of the 460 youth workers across the state. Cockerell and Justice Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said the money would come from the existing budget, but did not provide details.

Bevin said the raises were needed to help stabilize the agency’s high turnover rate. The high-stress job, combined with low starting pay of $11.25 per hour, resulted in the agency losing 180 people in 2016 while hiring just 151.

“You find yourselves competing against not working at all, frankly a more lucrative option in some instances,” Bevin said. “While I would rather be able to do this for every single worker everywhere in the state in one fell swoop, we don’t have that ability.”

Starting salaries for youth workers will jump 20 percent, to about $13.50 per hour.

Youth workers will be at least the third group of state workers to get a raise under the Bevin administration. Last year, Bevin included raises for social workers in the state spending plan. And police officers’ annual training incentive pay was increased to $4,000 from $3,100.

Joset Irvine, a youth worker at the Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center, said the raises will bring consistency.

“The high turnover rate, it affects the residents as well. Once they get attached to you and then you are leaving, it feels like you have left them,” she said.

By Adam Beam

Associated Press

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