OJJ to Open New Juvenile Facility in Columbia Early Next Year -- Renovated DHH residential facility to house up to 48 youth to receive rehabilitation services
COLUMBIA — The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Health and Hospitals today announced a new juvenile facility will open early next year on the current site of Columbia Community Residential and Employment Services (CCRES), a facility of DHH’s Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. The new OJJ facility will transition 48 youth and 43 employees from the Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe to the Columbia facility after renovations to the 10-acre campus are completed.
State Senator Neil Riser joined OJJ Deputy Secretary Dr. Mary Livers and DHH Secretary Alan Levine to announce the transition of Columbia Community Residential and Employment Services to a moderate secure center.
“The residents of Columbia have been essential to the state’s efforts to provide vital, high-quality services to citizens with developmental disabilities in the area for more than four decades,” said Sen. Riser, “and we are grateful to the Administration for the opportunity to provide the same level of quality care to adjudicated juveniles.”
Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposed FY2011 budget provides $2 million for renovations and transition costs for the facility. The new juvenile center at Columbia will provide a therapeutic moderate secure setting where youth can be rehabilitated, utilizing the Louisiana model of therapeutic secure care. Once completed, the facility will also have an on-site school, where youth will receive academic instruction, life skills and pre-vocational skills training. Daily therapeutic groups will address identified needs, such as anger management, empathy and substance abuse.
“This is a crucial transition for our adjudicated youth population,” said Dr. Livers. “Our goal is to move away from the large, institutionalized corrections system for Louisiana’s young adults, and provide them with the guidance and rehabilitation they need closer to their homes, their families and the community to which they’ll be returning. The Columbia site allows us to do that while reducing the Swanson population to a total of 190 youth – a 24 percent decrease.”
Columbia Community Residential and Employment Services originally housed 32 residents with developmental disabilities, the last of which transitioned to community-based care in mid-November 2009. The center continues to serve 40 individuals through day vocational programs on campus; those clients will be transitioned to services with private providers in the months to come.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to make the best use of the resources we have,” said DHH Secretary Levine. “By having multiple agencies working together, the reforms underway at DHH now give us the opportunity to help move juvenile justice reform forward by providing a means to create a more focused intervention with these children. Columbia will be a key part of our state’s approach to building a better future for these kids.”
In 2005, DHH embarked upon an effort to comply with the Congressional mandate to ensure individuals with developmental disabilities be provided residential services in a community-based, rather than institutional, setting – leading to the reduction of the number of residents with developmental disabilities. DHH is moving toward partnerships with private providers for the remaining services (group homes and vocational services), creating opportunities for jobs with the private providers.
There are currently 86 DHH employees working at the vocational program or community homes. DHH is working closely with private providers to move these employees with the residents they currently care for, or with the vocational program with which they work.
“We have good private providers who provide excellent care for people with developmental disabilities,” said Sen. Riser. “I encourage DHH and the private providers to work together to ensure a good transition and to help state employees who want to work for the private providers find opportunities to do so.”
The Office of Juvenile Justice serves youth who have been adjudicated delinquent or Families in Need of Services (FINS). The Office is responsible for youth assigned to its care by the court system, either for supervision or custody in residential placement or secure care. To learn more about OJJ, visit http://www.ojj.la.gov.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.