TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A staffing shortage in juvenile corrections has forced probation officers in Travis County to take shifts working security and supervision on the juvenile detention floor.

These staff members would otherwise only typically meet with in-custody youth individually in secured locations.

“That’s like putting a prosecutor in the jail,” said Carol Guthrie, who works as the union representative for these employees. “Safety, which is always our concern… the juvenile probation officers are usually the folks that recommend what children might go to detention.”

A county spokesperson said the Texas Juvenile Justice Department has a 40% staff vacancy statewide, and the Juvenile Probation Department implemented the new requirement to ensure the department continues to maintain required staff-to-resident supervision ratios.

“That was part of an operation need that the department was making this request,” said Todd Osburn, Travis County’s assistant director of Human Resources, during a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting discussing this item.

The County said probation officers have 15 cases each on average, and the Juvenile Probation Department believes it currently has “enough [juvenile probation officers] to provide adequate and appropriate services to youth and families.”

On Sept. 13, a vote was set to take place during commissioners court on whether to reconsider the new requirement, which was announced in July. The vote was postponed. A County spokesperson said it has not been rescheduled yet.

During that meeting, probation officers expressed concerns about safety and workloads.

“This has caused stressors with POs’ workloads as cases have shuffled from PO to PO, and the continuity of care for the youth in this community has suffered severely,” one employee said during her testimony.