SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Sedgwick County was forced to shut the doors to its Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF). A place the county uses to keep kids out of the detention center.

The residential facility is an alternative to detention for children and is an emergency shelter for those in foster care. The deputy director of juvenile services in Sedgwick County said closing it was a heartbreaking decision.

“I think this was a heart-wrenching decision, and this was not something that we wanted to do,” said Steve Stonehouse, the Deputy Director of Juvenile Services.

The labor shortage is halting a successful resource for young offenders in the community.

“There’s just not enough people, and we decided on a Thursday that we were not going to do it. We were going to take a pause and try to refocus and regroup,” said Stonehouse.

While Sedgwick County Commissioners said they knew about the staffing problems, some said they were left out of this decision.

“I think we knew we had shortfalls. I don’t think that anyone up here had the knowledge that some of these programs have been suspended or had been substantially changed,” said Commissioner Jim Howell.

“We’re at a breaking point, I believe, and we have to do something. Nobody wants to cut services, and nobody wants to raise taxes,” said Commissioner Lacey Cruse.

Both Commissioner Cruse and Howell said wages for those working in the county’s detention facilities need to be higher as commissioners are currently looking into next year’s budget, but commissioner Howell said it might not be enough.

“I believe the JRF is a good program, and we need that program. This community needs that program. We don’t have people. Literally, there is no one in the community that is qualified to do these jobs and we certainly can’t afford to pay unlimited salaries,” said Commissioner Howell.

Stonehouse said it would take at least four or five new employees to get the facility open again then it will take at least 30 more days until kids can return.