Protecting children, ensuring justice during the pandemic

VIRTUAL GRADUATION: Presiding Judge Alberto C. Lamorena III hosts the first virtual graduation for the Driving While Intoxicated Treatment Court participants. The Judiciary of Guam received funding from the Department of Administration to address safety for employees and clients during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of the Judiciary of Guam

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series that breaks down federal pandemic relief funds for Guam.

The Department of Youth Affairs is carefully spending its federal pandemic funds to protect staff and the children in their care as the clock ticks toward the December deadline to use funds.

DYA received the funds from the $117.9 million administered by the Department of Administration.

Department of Youth Affairs Director Melanie Brennan said her agency requested $115,285 to cover anticipated COVID-related costs. DYA was granted the full amount, which is being released in allotments scheduled by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research.

Brennan said DYA has received $54,400 so far, and $31,561 has been spent.

"DYA has purchased personal protective equipment for both staff and youth residents, sanitizing and disinfecting supplies, and paid for the additional costs in power and water consumption for standing up a quarantine site within the youth correctional facility for new admissions," said Brennan.

"Our available allotment is $22,838.75; our unallotted balance is $60,885," she said. DYA intends to purchase sanitizing services and additional sanitizing supplies; computer equipment and internet services for virtual visitations, meetings, hearings and teleworking capabilities; and a water filtration system to eliminate the need for water delivery and avoid "unnecessary outside interaction."

DYA confirmed it has until Dec. 31 to spend the funding.

$788.8K for the Judiciary

The Judiciary of Guam has received $788,829 in CARES Act funding from the Department of Administration. These were primarily received as reimbursements for money already spent.

A large portion, 84%, of those funds was spent on personnel costs for law enforcement assisting with the COVID-19 response, the Judiciary stated. The remaining funds were spent on PPE, sanitization and other costs.

"We continue to provide our law enforcement personnel to Guam Homeland Security to assist them with the pandemic needs associated with quarantine and the contact tracing," said Kristina Baird, administrator of the courts, during a Judicial Council meeting Thursday.

"We also continue to purchase our needed PPEs for our staff and our facilities," she said. "The latest PPEs, as far as our facilities are concerned, is the installation of the plexiglass in all of the Superior Court courtrooms. We added two pieces of plexiglass in the client services therapy room. Sanitization of all of our facilities continues seven days a week."

Baird added the courts created three client Zoom rooms to assist court clients.

"Those will give an opportunity for those clients or defendants that don't have any type of virtual capability to utilize our facilities for that purpose," she said.

Additionally, the court notes they are working to receive reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for other costs associated with the pandemic.

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