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Okaloosa Youth Academy: Programs and Services

Okaloosa Youth Academy is a 100-bed moderate-risk, certified juvenile justice residential commitment facility for male offenders located 2.2 miles south of Crestview, Florida. 70 beds are allocated for adjudicated sex offenders and 30 beds are allocated for moderate risk offenders.

The facility is operated by Gulf Coast Youth Services and consists of three dormitory housing units for the youth, an education building with four classrooms, a dining hall, and an administrative building.

Primary functions of Okaloosa Youth Academy are to provide care, and maintain control and custody of the youth throughout their commitment to the facility.


Okaloosa Youth Academy utilizes a team approach to teaching adjudicated males the fundamentals of goal and objective setting and completion. A multidisciplinary Treatment Team meets bi-weekly with the youth to initiate and monitor a Performance Plan, based on a thorough assessment of the needs that must be addressed to increase the youths’ level of functioning in the community.

The Treatment Team is comprised of the Program Director or designee, a mental health professional, a nursing representative, a representative from the educational program, the youth’s case manager, a direct-care staff member, parents or guardians, and the youth himself.


Case Management
Quality case management is essential to the provision of individualized and appropriate rehabilitative treatment for each youth. Case management is implemented through a multi-disciplinary treatment team which assesses each youth, identifies his needs, develops rehabilitative treatment goals, assesses the youth’s progress on an ongoing basis, and assists in planning for the youth’s transition back into the community.

Each case manager has a caseload of 20 youth. A needs assessment is accomplished which is a systematic review of all existing information about the youth and his family.

The youth’s needs are prioritized and incorporated into a performance plan by the treatment team which includes the youth. The performance plan stipulates measurable goals and objectives, the responsibilities of the youth and staff in completing the goals and objectives, and reasonable time frames for the completion of the goals and objectives.

Treatment teams meet every two weeks to assess and monitor the progress and guide the youth in the acquisition of his performance goals. Case managers effectively plan each youth’s release into the community by coordinating the concerted efforts of the youth, juvenile probation officer, conditional release provider, and the youth’s family, legal guardian or foster care provider.

The case manager also ensures that the proper notification is made to schools, the court and other community agencies.


Behavioral Health Overlay Services
Behavioral health overlay services are mental health and substance abuse services designed to meet the behavioral health treatment needs of recipients who are placed in the care of Medicaid enrolled, certified residential commitment programs under contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Okaloosa Youth Academy is enrolled as a Medicaid community mental health services provider. An individualized treatment plan is developed for each youth in conjunction with the DJJ performance plan.

Mental health and substance abuse services are rendered seven days a week by qualified counselors and include group, individual, and family counseling. Treatment teams meet frequently to monitor the improvement in the mental, emotional and functional status of the youth.


Medical/Psychiatric Services
Each youth receives a physical and a review of their immunization record. A contracted physician serves as the designated health authority and provides on-site services to conduct physical examinations and render routine medical care at least two times per week and more often if needed.

Nurses provide routine medical care, administer medications and make arrangements for referrals and consults when needed for medical and dental care.

The Okaloosa County Health Department assists in keeping the youth’s immunizations current. The Oasis Foundation provides on-site education, HIV testing, and pre and post counseling services. Nurses also provide education on health-related topics.

Psychiatric services are rendered by a psychiatrist, including psychiatric evaluations, medication management and monitoring of youth placed on psychotropic medications.


Residential Services
Residential services provides for shelter, food, personal hygiene, and a highly-structured rehabilitative milieu directed at improving the youth’s competency in social skills and coping abilities. A stern behavior management system is in place that directs the expectations for appropriate social behavior, accountability, and responsibility to other peers and staff. The behavior management system is also a teaching tool in that re-enforcement is given for positive behavior and feedback is given for negative behavior along with re-direction, staff counseling, peer support, and disciplinary action if positive interventions are not successful.

Youth care workers monitor and control the daily activities of the youth and the movement to and participation of the youth in activities, including dorm activities, education and vocational classes, meals, physical therapy, mental health services, and appointments and activities outside the facility.


Volunteers serve as a vital link between the program and the community and provide opportunities for bonding between the youth and conventional adults. At Okaloosa Youth Academy, volunteers spend time with the youth in faith based activities and gang rescue efforts.


Education & Vocational Services
The Okaloosa County School District provides teachers and educational classes on-site year round. The expected outcome of the educational program is that the youth will have the opportunity to receive an education that is appropriate to their future educational plans and allows them to progress toward a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Teachers have professional or temporary state teaching certification or statement of eligibility. Non-certified personnel possess documented expert knowledge and/or skill in the field(s) they are teaching and have school board approval.

Academic classes are provided five days per week and youth must attend at a minimum of 300 minutes per day. School is in session from 7:25 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.

Upon entry, youth are assessed for their academic needs based on a review of educational records, transcripts, and formal academic assessment (BASI) for reading, writing and mathematics. An education plan is developed for each youth and youth are placed in classes to receive instruction in reading, writing and mathematics.

Tutorial, remedial and literacy instruction are provided as needed. Student progress is monitored and reported at treatment team meetings every two weeks. Students may progress in grade levels, have access to GED testing if appropriate, and graduation if credit requirements are met.

Vocational instructors possess documented experience and expert knowledge and/or skill in the field(s) they are teaching. All youth at Okaloosa Youth Academy will attend a minimum of 300 minutes of academic instruction per day. As part of the curriculum, vocational classes are offered and include instruction in masonry, carpentry, electronics, Microsoft and horticulture.

Vocational/technical objectives may include objectives for career awareness and exploration, employability skills, or hands-on vocational training. Currently, courses are offered in masonry, carpentry and horticulture. Students are scheduled to participate in these courses during the regular school hours.


Behavior Management System
The Adolescent Behavioral/Developmental Incentive Program (ABDIP) is a behavior modification program for adolescents developed by Donald D. Baines, Ph.D., and is the approved behavior management system of Okaloosa Youth Academy. Components of the behavior management system include a pre-determined list of socially appropriate and adaptive behavioral expectations, point system to score performance, positive reinforcement, point store, privilege incentive system, daily feedback, and sanctions applied if negative behavior persists.


A master schedule is posted in areas accessible to all youth and staff and is substantially followed. The master schedule encompasses the entire day, which begins at 5:00 a.m. with wakeup and ends at 8:30 p.m. with lights out.


Community Service Projects
Community Service projects are an integral part of the Okaloosa Youth Academy program. Youth who pass the risk assessment criteria for outside activities are encouraged to participate in community service projects to complete their court sanctions during their stay at OYA. Community service projects include providing restoration, painting, landscaping, and cleanup for non-profit agencies, the city of Crestview and other surrounding areas.


Skill Streaming Groups
Social rehabilitation and basic living skills groups are taught weekly. The Arise Foundation provides a curriculum that is followed for this purpose.


Victim Awareness
Restorative Justice Classes (using the Impact of Crime Curriculum) are held with select groups. These classes are targeted to youth assuming responsibility for the crime and hurt caused to the victims and taking action to make amends to the victims by restoring the loss.

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