The Columbia area welcomed a new friend in a familiar setting in May 2013 when the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice opened a secure care facility for delinquent juvenile males on the site of the former Department of Health and Hospitals/Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities’ Columbia Community Residential and Employment Services (CCRES).
CCRES originally housed residents with developmental disabilities, and served day clients with vocational programming. In 2005, DHH began to comply with the Congressional mandate that individuals with developmental disabilities receive residential services in community-based, rather than institutional, settings. All clients were transitioned to community-based care with private providers several years ago, and the facility was closed. The property was transferred from DHH to OJJ in 2010 for use as a secure care center for youth.
The new Swanson Center for Youth at Columbia provides a therapeutic, secure setting where youth receive treatment services and rehabilitation, utilizing the nationally-acclaimed Louisiana model of therapeutic secure care. SCYC’s on-site, state-approved Pinehill Alternative School, provides educational opportunities for resident youth, including academic instruction and life skills training. Daily therapeutic group sessions address identified needs, such as anger management and substance abuse.
The new OJJ facility houses youth and employees who moved from Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe to the Columbia facility after renovations to the 10-acre campus were completed. As part of a systemic reform of Louisiana’s juvenile justice system that began a decade ago, OJJ’s goal is to open small, regional facilities for our adjudicated youth population, as we move away from the previous system of large, institutionalized corrections facilities. Today OJJ provides youth with treatment and rehabilitation services closer to their homes, to enhance family involvement in their programming, and maintain ties with the community to which they will return.