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Special Needs

Program Purpose

George Junior Republic opened its first Special Needs facility in March 1986 for youth who were unable to be treated in an open residential environment. Each Special Needs facility is a staff secure, self contained, and highly structured facility for youth who display moderate to severe emotionally disturbance. By addressing the youth’s dysfunction within small peer groups, each youth is provided an opportunity of developing coping mechanisms that will enable him to function in a less restrictive environment. The objective of the program is to provide care in order to affect the ability of the youth to become functional in an open residential setting.

Youth Served

  • Delinquent and dependent males, 8 to 18 years of age
  • Youth who require a staff secured setting to address and manage their acute behavioral health or persistent/recurring disorders
  • Youth who have a behavioral disorder as the cause of significant functional and psychosocial impairment
  • As a result of the youth's clinical condition, there is significant risk of one or more of the following:
    • More restrictive or secure care as evidenced by the current behaviors or past history
    • Harm to self or others as a result of current behavior or past history
    • More severe pattern of delinquency
  • Youth whose resources and support system are not adequate to provide the support, structure, supervision, and treatment currently needed as evidenced by:
    • Adjudicated delinquent or dependent
    • No residence with social support structure or supervision
    • A residence that is insufficient to produce positive outcomes and ensure safety
    • Current residential juvenile placement, but is unable to use relationships to ensure safety and the ability to participate in treatment; the relationships are dysfunctional; there is a risk of instability in treatment; or the current residential placement is asking for the youth's removal

Program Overview

The Special Needs facilities are staff secure, self contained, and highly structured. The environment of the Special Needs Program ensures the safety and security of each youth during the treatment process. Considerations in building design were given to life space, durability, indestructibility, education, recreation, dining, visiting, and injury prevention while attempting to provide a natural home like environment utilizing lighting, therapeutic color schemes, and furnishings. 

Individualized Treatment

The program operates from the multi-disciplinary treatment team approach, which works together to develop and implement a highly individualized treatment plan designed to meet the needs of each youth. The treatment team consists of a master’s level therapist, clinical managers, psychiatrist, campus director, and medical staff. Upon admission, each youth’s needs and abilities are assessed and an individualized treatment plan is developed. The placing agency and family are invited to participate in the youth’s planning and will be offered family intervention as a tool to prepare the youth to return to the community.  The treatment plan includes time specific short and long-term goals and objectives. Each youth is reviewed weekly in relation to his progress towards the goals and objectives and is involved in a behavioral modification system, which is designed to positively reinforce appropriate skills and replace dysfunctional behavioral patterns.

Each youth is provided various individual and group therapies through outpatient services.  Individual therapy is provided two sessions per week by a master’s level therapist and is conducted within the framework of cognitive behavioral therapy. This approach is used to challenge and develop the youth’s thought processes, beliefs, and behaviors.  A master’s level therapist will also provide two group therapy sessions per week and may provide any specialized therapy or interventions recommended by the treatment team, while the therapeutic milieu is provided daily by bachelor’s level staff. The milieu is based upon a behavioral motivation system for which a pro-social and incentive based system fosters positive changes and assists the youth in gaining control over his own behaviors.

As the youth gain more control of their behavior and develop necessary skills, the team members refer the youth to a less restrictive environment where the youth can test and implement the skills and maturity learned while in the Special Needs Program.

Psychiatric care is available by a George Junior Republic psychiatrist for youth who display a more severe emotional or mental disturbance as indicated upon referral.  Psychological testing is available as needed.

Academic Services

Academic services are provided through a partnership with the Grove City Area School District and each building has an independent and fully functioning classroom.

Recreational Services

Youth within the Special Needs Program are offered recreational services across campus under the direct supervision of clinical staff. As with a majority of our treatment programs, the recreation department develops and implements a wide range of activities for youth within the Special Needs Program.

Visitation and Home Passes Promote Family Reunification

Visits by immediate family members are available every weekend to promote family reunification and may include family therapy sessions. George Junior Republic encourages family visits on both Saturday and Sunday and can assist each family in making visitation arrangements.

Each youth may also earn six scheduled home passes per year during his residential treatment. These passes occur in February, April/May, June, August, November, and December. Each youth must show the appropriate progress in his treatment in order for staff to recommend a home pass. Home passes are necessary to treatment and allow each youth the opportunity to show his progress in both the home and community settings and prepare for reunification.

Please refer to the Parent Information Guide for more information.

Referrals and Discharge

The treatment team at George Junior Republic coordinates discharge and referral for each youth in conjunction with the probation officer, caseworker and  family. Often a discharge is scheduled for the same day as a review hearing in the placing county. Youth completing the Special Needs Program may either be referred for a stepdown to a lower level of care such as the General Residential Program or may return to their parents’ or guardian’s home. Some youth may be referred to an alternative placement, depending on the resources available to them. George Junior Republic recommends aftercare services to assist the youth in his adjustment to the community, school, and home. In addition, follow up mental health appointments are made to ensure that youth requiring medication will have a smooth transition of services.