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Special Needs Residential Treatment Facility

Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS)-Approved Special Needs RTF

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 due to more intensive mental health concerns.  The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) approved Special Needs Program (RTF) offers a highly structured, staff secure, psychiatric program for youth who are moderately to severly emotionally disturbed.  By addressing the youth's dysfunction within a small peer group setting, each youth is provided with an opportunity of developing coping mechanisms, which will enable him to function in a less restrictive environment.

The objective of the program is to provide treatment in order to affect the ability of the youth to become functional in an open residential setting (a less restrictive environment).  Upon admission, each youth's needs and abilities are assessed and an individualized treatment plan is developed.  The Special Needs Program (RTF) ensures the safety and security of each youth during the treatment process.  Each Special Needs facility is designed to provide the youth with an individual bedroom, individualized educational programs, and various individual and group therapies.

Youth Served

  • Delinquent and dependent males, 8 to 18 years of age who meet the criteria of medical necessity
  • Youth who are unable to function in an open residential setting
  • Youth must have a DSM IV diagnosis Axis 1-5 of a mental disorder that is the cause of the significant functional and psychosocial impairment, and the individual’s clinical condition can be expected to be stabilized through the provision of intensive supports within a residential setting
  • Youth with an acute disorder or persistent/recurring disorders that cannot be supported with less intensive services based on clinical evidence
  • Youth resources and a support system are not adequate to provide the support, structure, supervision, and treatment currently needed as evidenced by:
    • Youth has been adjudicated delinquent or dependent
    • Youth has no residence with a social support structure or supervision
    • Youth has a residence with limited ability to produce positive outcomes and ensure safety
    • Youth has a current juvenile placement, but is unable to function to ensure safety and participate in treatment
    • Youth reequires active support to ensure adequate and effective coping skills necessary to live safely, participate in self care and treatment, and manage the effects of his mental illness. As a result of the youth's clinical condition, there is significant risk of one or more of the following:
      • Hospitalization or other inpatient care as evidenced by the current behaviors or by past history
      • Harm to self or others as a result of current behavior or past history
      • More severe pattern of delinquency


There are multiple OMHSAS Special Needs facilities on our campus. The physical environment of the Special Needs Program (RTF) ensures the safety and security of each youth during the treatment process.  The Special Needs facilities are staff secure, self contained, and highly structured facilities with a psychiatric-oriented program.  Each facility is designed to provide the youth with an individual bedroom and various individual and group therapies.  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 Special Needs Program (RTF) 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. The treatment team, in collaboration with each youth’s placing agency representative and family, develops the treatment plan. This plan will include time specific short and long term goals and objectives, while involving each youth in a behavioral modification system, which is designed to positively reinforce appropriate skills and replace dysfunctional behavioral patterns.

Upon placement, each youth’s needs and abilities are assessed while discharge planning becomes the central focus. As the youth gains more control of his behavior and develops necessary skills, the treatment team members may refer the youth to a less restrictive environment where the youth can test and implement the skills and maturity learned while in the restrictive environment of the Special Needs Program (RTF).

Cognitive behavioral therapy in a healing setting

Individual therapy is provided twice weekly 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 though process belief and thought behaviors. A master’s level therapist will also provide group therapy twice weekly and provide any specialized therapy or interventions recommended by the treatment team.

The therapeutic environment is implemented daily by bachelor’s-level staff consistent with the behavioral motivation system. This treatment environment is based upon a pro-social and incentive-based system that fosters positive changes and assists the youth in gaining control over his own behaviors. 

Psychiatric care is provided by a George Junior Republic psychiatrist. Psychiatric evaluations are completed for each youth upon placement, with 30 day follow up reviews throughout a youth’s treatment within the Special Needs Program (RTF). Psychological testing and further diagnostic services are available upon request.

Academic Services

Academic services are provided through a partnership with the Grove City Area School District. 

Recreational Services

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

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.  Visits are encouraged to occur on both Saturday and Sunday.  George Junior Republic may assist each family in making visitation arrangements.

A youth may also earn six scheduled home passes per year during his 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 a home pass to be recommended. Home passes are necessary to treatment and allow each youth the opportunity to show his progress in 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 or caseworker and managed care organization.  Often a discharge is scheduled for the same day as a review hearing in the placing county. Youth completing the Special Needs Program (RTF) may either be referred for a step down to a lower level of care such as the General Residential Program or may return to their home. Some youth may be referred to an alternative placement, depending on the resources available to them.

Aftercare services are recommended 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 to services.