Youth Leadership AcademyYouth Leadership Academy
3155 W. Justice Center Way
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 935-7099View Map
The Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) is a 60-bed, secured treatment facility operated by the Orange County Probation Department. Centrally located within Orange County, the facility opened in July 2006 and consists of two, two-story modular living units that are designed to each house up to 60 youths, however, currently only one unit is being utilized due to current budget reductions. The facility is self-contained and includes laundry and intake/release services. Each building contains a control center, dayrooms, dining, and multi-purpose areas with shared access to four school classrooms and outdoor recreation space. There is a third building that functions as the administration building and includes staff parking.
YLA’s population primarily consists of youths between 17.5 and 20 years of age who are at moderate to high risk to re-offend in the community. These youths also have noted problems with aggression, antisocial attitudes, belief systems, behavior, and peers. They are often drug and alcohol dependant and lack self control. The average length of their commitment is 120 days.
YLA provides a comprehensive residential program designed to prepare our youth to re-enter and transition back into the community through enhanced competencies including, but not limited to, remedial education, rehabilitative treatment programs, substance abuse programs, mental health services, and community outreach opportunities. Comprehensive academic and special education services are provided by Otto Fischer School, which is operated by the Orange County Department of Education. The Department of Education provides a certified counselor/clinician to provide vocational instruction and employment as well as referral for Wrap Around services. On-site medical services are provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency. Mental health services are provided by the Orange County Health Care Agency, through the Clinical Evaluation and Guidance Unit (CEGU) and include crisis, individual, group, and family counseling. Providence Community Services provides drug and alcohol education, assessments, individual and group treatment, and sober activities. Religious programming, reading skill building, educational tutoring, community service and restorative justice opportunities are provided through the use of volunteers in Probation.
Evidence Based Practices
The Youth Leadership Academy utilizes Evidenced Based Programs and activities that have been proven effective through research which includes a risk/needs assessment, individual motivators, targeting appropriate intervention, rewiring the brain, and increasing positive reinforcement. Thinking for a Change (T4C) is used as an integrated, cognitive approach to changing behavior through cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and problem solving.
Direct supervision and counseling, small groups, anger management, drug and alcohol awareness, victim awareness, character and values education and development, social skills training, and gang intervention supplement our efforts.
Highly trained and professional staff and collaborative partners are encouraged to develop positive relationships with the youth and act as mentors to them. Staff make a significant effort to reward our youth for positive behavior and achieving goals. Incentive and opportunities are readily available and preferred over sanctions for misbehavior. Staff who invest their time, talents, and presence are key to the program’s success.
Re-entry and Transitional Planning
Due to the range of ages in the Youth Leadership Academy population, the Re-Entry/CORE Program and transitional planning back into the community play a major role in achieving goals of the program. Minors are encouraged to assist in developing their own customized program based on their identified needs. This process will give each minor a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
Education, employment training, career development and housing are significant issues to be addressed prior to completion of the program. Transitional planning and development begins upon entry into the program. Issues of risk to the community and their own personal and individual needs are identified and addressed to enhance the youth’s chance of successful re-entry into the community. Our youths play an active role in developing short and long term goals with the assistance of our staff and collaborative partners.
Efforts are made to include the youth’s family and assigned probation officer throughout each phase of the program to ensure a successful transition into the community.
Levels of Leadership
The Youth Leadership Academy calls and encourages our youth to be leaders in the program and in their communities upon release. There are four levels of leadership for youth to achieve in the program ranging from Level 1 to Level 4. Minors will be given more responsibilities as they promote to each level, which may include off-site schooling, employment, furloughs, and field trips. At each level, the principles learned in the T4C sessions will be applied at each level so that minors increase their responsibility and build a sense of confidence, which in turn builds self-esteem, pride, and true control over one’s own life.
Efforts are made prior to release by a Transitional Deputy Probation Officer to set up a support system for the youth. Once the youth is released from custody, it is critical they have on going support in the community.
Our ultimate goal is to develop our youth so that they may transform into young men of character, honor, and integrity.