A proposal that would cut $1.2 million from the budget of China Spring Youth Camp was opposed by Douglas County commissioners on Thursday.
County Manager Patrick Cates said the governor’s proposed budget cuts state participation in the camp, which serves 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties.
The state funds about a third of the camp’s budget, with the rest coming from other counties and Medicaid, Cates said on Thursday. The camp is part of the state’s Health and Human Services budget but is managed by Douglas County’s District Court.
Cates said funding is complicated by issued with Medicaid due to the coronavirus outbreak. Between the two, that means the camp’s budget is roughly $2 million short, District Judge Tod Young said Friday.
“I certainly appreciate the commission’s support of the camp,” he said. “The programs at China Spring are a critical element of juvenile justice designed to help boys and girls break the cycles of use, abuse and delinquency without having to commit them to state custody.”
Young said the camp has helped thousands of children offering counseling, substance abuse and mental health treatment.
The camp offers a chance to children who have already tried community supervision but haven’t been successful.
“Our goal is to give them the tools then need to make life in their home communities work, so they can avoid state custody.”
Young said that’s going to be difficult to do if the camp is missing $2 million from its budget.
“The children we serve will be left without this valuable program,” he said.
“The solution is for the participating counties to increase their payments to make up the difference,” Cates said.
Douglas County pays $100,000 into the program.
Cates said that one of the issues is that the state budget officers may be comparing China Spring with the Spring Mountain Youth Camp, which serves Clark County.
“That’s a very different program,” Cates said. “China Spring has a girls program while Spring Mountain does not.”
Cates said the Senate Committee on Finance is scheduled to conduct budget hearings virtually 8 a.m. Feb. 10.
China Spring is located in the Pine Nut Mountains south of Highway 395. Originally opened on Aug. 1, 1983, the 40-acre camp site was donated by rancher Stoddard Jacobsen.
The camp closed for two years, but reopened after being redesigned by District Judge Norm Robison, who helped build the structure.
Aurora Pines was added to house girls in 2002.
The camp accepts offenders ages 12-18 from every county except Clark, which has its own juvenile program. Those juveniles sent to China Spring cannot be convicted of a felony. The camp’s capacity is around 60.