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The article below is one in a series called Bristol at Work that profiles employees of the City of Bristol Tennessee. Please follow us on Facebook to see other profiles in this series.
Kevin Allison’s main goal is to “make sure kids are safe.”
Sometimes that means arranging counseling for a teen who has dabbled in drugs or alcohol, while other times he’s involved in finding a safe haven for children from abusive situations. No two days are exactly the same, he said, adding that it takes an entire team to get the job done.
“You couldn’t do this job if you didn’t really care about children,” he said. “They’re our future, and we all want what’s best for them.”
Kevin serves as Youth Services Manager for Bristol, Tennessee, overseeing the day-to-day operations of a bustling office that is committed to helping at-risk kids in our community. Each year, he and his staff handle upwards of 800 cases that have been referred to them by the City’s Juvenile Court and Judge Randy Kennedy. They work closely with a wide array of community service providers to assist children they encounter who – either because of their own mistakes or because of circumstances beyond their control – could use a little help navigating life.
Some have been victims of neglect or abuse, while others have suffered as a result of nasty custody battles between their parents. Some of the kids he meets have gotten on the wrong side of the law for skipping school or more serious offenses that have landed them in juvenile detention facilities. Regardless, each one matters, Kevin said, and his office is committed to providing quality, professional help.
“I manage the office, but I couldn’t do this job without a great team,” he said. “We all work together to do what is in the best interest of the kids because we really do care about them.”
Kevin joined the U.S. Army immediately after graduating from Tennessee High School and returned to the region four years later to pursue a career in the criminal justice field. He now holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from East Tennessee State University.
He began his 23-year career in youth services in nearby Southwest Virginia, working at a residential treatment facility, as a day counselor, and at a detention center before he landed a job with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. In that role, he worked closely with the juvenile justice system, gaining experience that has proven valuable in his current role.
He joined the City in January 2018 as a Youth Services Officer, but was promoted to his current job the following year.
There have been heartwarming moments throughout his career, he said, when families have received the help they needed to create stable home environments, and heartbreaking moments when young people haven’t survived. He’s dealt with repeat offenders, but he’s also known many who have escaped the cycle.
“It’s really rewarding when you see someone we’ve worked with after a few years and they have graduated from high school, gotten a job, and stayed out of trouble,” he said. “That’s why we do this job.”
When he’s not caring for the community’s children, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife, Crystal, and their 13-year-old son, Kai, who attends Tennessee Middle School. He also enjoys reading (everything from history to true crime) and is actively involved in his church.
Shout out to Kevin Allison, whose kind heart and professional expertise as Youth Service Manager have improved the quality of life for countless young people in our community. He’s another perfect example of Bristol at Work.