Greene County youth intervention plan’s goal ‘to teach them life lessons’

A new program in Greene County aimed at helping troubled teens make better choices will be provided at the former boys residential treatment center, which was shut down in January and is being renovated.

Youths who end up in the juvenile court system may have the opportunity to be diverted into the new intervention program as opposed to other options, including being kept at the juvenile detention center, according to juvenile court officials.

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Greene County Juvenile Judge Adolfo A. Tornichio said the new program is an “evidence-based” approach to intervention.

Tornichio said the former residential treatment centers were closed down in part because “times change, people change.”

“What worked 35 years ago is not the same today,” he said. “Greene County, Ohio, in 2018 is not the same Greene County it was in 1981 or ‘82. I think the real key difference is those evidence-based programs have been in use throughout juvenile courts across this country where you can quantify what the success rate is.”

Old carpeting is being ripped up and new coats of paint are going on the walls at the the former boys home, 701 Dayton Xenia Road.

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Grant funding of $33,000 from the Ohio Department of Youth Services is being set aside to pay for the renovation work, said Amy Lewis, Greene County court administrator/magistrate.

Sixteen juveniles will be chosen for the program each month, and they will be picked up on a daily basis and transported to the intervention center, where they will receive counseling if needed on drug and alcohol treatment and on dealing with mental health issues, Lewis said.

“We want to work with youth who are moderate- to high-risk to re-offend so that they don’t come in with more serious offenses,” Lewis said. “The kids will be referred by a diversion or probation officer. Our goal is to teach them life lessons and skills, get them tutoring assistance, see where they’re struggling. We will have staff that report there to work with the kids as well.”

Lewis said there will be jobs for the youths at the center, and they will need to apply for a job and go through an interview process, similar to what an adult must do to get a job. In addition, the youths will receive tutoring assistance that is provided by tutors from Xenia Community Schools.

Lewis said they plan to start a 4H program at the center, and there will be gardening. She said they are getting assistance from the Ohio State University Extension Office, and the plan is to install a greenhouse in the backyard later this year. She said food that is grown there will be donated, providing fresh produce to families-in-need or food pantries.

The center is expected to open in June.

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