Welcome to Open Door Youth Services. We are Southern Indiana’s source for youth activities and community growth.
The Floyd County Youth Services Bureau was officially established on August 9, 1982. A grant was secured from the Juvenile Justice Institute for renovation and first year operating expenses for a shelter for troubled children and youth. In addition to grant money, thousands of dollars and man hours were contributed by the community. Since that time, numerous programs have been added in response to needs presented within the Southern Indiana community.
In 2012, a move to a newly renovated facility seemed the perfect opportunity to change the name to reflect our expanded programs, both qualitatively and geographically. Open Door was chosen because it seemed to indicate our acceptance of a responsibility to work with the most vulnerable children in the community. Open Door Youth Services is an accredited member of Indiana Youth Services Association, a member of IARCCA, An Association of Children and Family Services, and a member of the Children’s Coalition of Indiana. Our programs reach as many as 700 children a year.
The Floyd County Youth Services Bureau has been serving our community since 1982. The Floyd County Youth Shelter programs add positive influences to the lives of our young people. Sometimes the kids arrive because “home” isn’t such a good place to be. Sometimes they are brought because they’ve missed too much school, or the disagreements at home are out of control. Whatever the reason, the Floyd County Youth Shelter gives them a safe, supportive place to live.
The Youth Shelter provides residential care after a referral from the Department of Child Services or Juvenile Probation. The kids are assured of a safe and comfortable residence where they get personal attention from a full-time teacher and a licensed family therapist. The shelter provides a highly structured environment where children know what to expect as well as what’s expected of them. Relaxation is important, too. The kids have access to a library, TV’s, computers and outdoor recreation. The Floyd County Youth Shelter works hard to help kids succeed!
In 2003 only 4% of children placed stayed for more than 60 days. That number jumped to 55% by 2009.
Personal Academic Support Services
With the huge increase in not only the number of children placed, but the length of their stays, the need for more intensive help for residents’ academics was obvious. The Personal Academic Support Services (PASS) program includes a comprehensive array of services to ensure every student at the Youth Shelter has the opportunity to be successful. A qualified tutor who oversees the daily study time and provides homework assistance directs this program. In addition to group study time, students receive one‐on‐one assistance each evening. The staff maintains contact with teachers and, when necessary, develops supplemental instruction to meet the needs of the individual student. When special needs students require a case conference, the staff is actively involved to ensure appropriate accommodations are provided. As part of the larger education community, PASS staff participates in school district student support programs and policy discussions.
One daily goal of PASS is to provide a supportive environment in which residents can do their best with schoolwork. This is essentially the role a parent usually fills; however, the PASS staff takes on the role for forty parents! The Youth Shelter residents need a structured group study time as well as a process for receiving individual assistance. Other concerns that PASS staff attends to each day are verifying homework completion, communicating with teachers and proactively monitoring school attendance. For students on non‐traditional school paths, the PASS staff may be a significant resource. Students attending programs offered though Education Support Services or completing their GED often requires time‐management guidance and encouragement to reach their goals.
Examples of the positive impact of PASS are greater participation in homework, fewer failing grades, reduced school absenteeism, successful transition to employment, increased post‐high school planning, and enhanced adult living skills (checking account, how to obtain important documents, managing work/life schedule). In addition to providing academic structure and support, PASS creates other types of learning experiences to broaden the residents’ world view, foster a desire for learning, and develop an appreciation for the natural, interdependent systems around them. These activities include participation in the Actor’s Theatre education series, frequent hikes in nearby State Parks and Forests, sampling different cuisines at area restaurants, attending the Louisville Opera student discount nights, trips to the J.B Speed Art Museum and the Rauch Planetarium, and metalworking demonstrations at Kaviar Forge.
Section Quick Links
The Floyd County Youth Services Bureau can help pay for appropriate services for your child and family.
Services offered are:
- Groups to teach problem solving skills
Each group will last eight weeks and the following topics will be covered:
- Stress and emotions
- Family problems
- School problems
- Conflict Resolution
- Anger Management
- Mood Problems (depression, bipolar, anxiety)
- Peer issues, values
- Dating issues, violence prevention
Activities include videotapes, excerpts from movies, some worksheet activity, discussion, and role plays, etc. Each participant will take a very brief post‐test at end of each session. Those completing 8 sessions take a pretest and post test.
- Drug and Alcohol education classes at Our Place
- Family counseling at Brandon’ s House
- Life skills classes for your child if he or she is placed at the Youth Shelter
- Psychological Testing*
There are various types of testing available. The following are basic outlines of these types, but the testing options can be individualized based on information given during the referral process:
- Personality: Includes testing that offers insight into the subject's interpersonal functioning. The focus is on personality structure (motivation, family relations, peer relations, and coping skills) rather than on diagnosing pathology. (Tests include: Personality Inventory for Youth, drawings, Incomplete Sentences Blank, and a projective test).
- Diagnostic: Focuses on diagnosing pathology such as Mood Disorders, Psychosis, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and ADHD. (Tests include: MMPI‐A and projective tests).
- Cognitive Functioning/IQ: Assesses the child's cognitive ability profile. This involves an IQ scale and possibly a visual‐motor integration test. There is an option to use an abbreviated IQ scale, which
involves 4 subtests. This should not be used when there are questions about academic achievement or ADHD. Typically, testing for placement requires the full IQ scale.
- Achievement: An achievement test yields an indication of the child's level of academic achievement in school. These scores are compared to the IQ scores as a means of ruling out learning
* Children must be referred by Juvenile Probation or the Department of Child Services.
The New Directions program was established in 1985 by the Floyd County Prosecutor’s Office. In 1993, the program merged with the Floyd County Youth Services Bureau. The program was initially funded by a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Planning Agency. Currently, the 1503 Youth Services Bureau grant funds this program, along with donations and smaller grants from local community resources.
The New Directions program works hand‐in‐hand with the local school system to provide prevention and early intervention programming to youth and their families. The program provides individual help to identified youth in developing personal strengths and resources to minimize their risk of becoming involved with juvenile delinquency. Youth are in grades 1‐8, and are enrolled in the New Albany/Floyd County school system. New Directions serves approximately one hundred and twenty (120) youth during a typical year. Programming consists of role‐playing, presentations, guest speakers, videos, discussions, arts and crafts and other various activities. Topics of programming include: anger management, conflict resolution, communication, self‐esteem, abuse, decision making, drugs and alcohol, and peer relations.
New Directions has recently added a literacy component. Each child receives a copy of a book chosen by staff that pertains to the topics covered in programming. Time is spent at the end of every session reading and when the book is completed, the child gets to take it home.
Adventure Program is a free field‐trip program that all New Directions children are enrolled into after the end of the school year. The New Directions staff takes the children to amusement parks, the zoo, an aquatic center and other areas for the children to have fun. The Adventure Program is often the only way for these children to access such places and learn about the world around them. The Adventure Program is funded by private donors and grants.
KAT, or Kids against Tobacco, is an anti‐tobacco program run by youth within New Directions. Supervised by the New Directions staff, the children in KAT put on plays for peers about the dangers of tobacco use. The children in KAT help with the planning and writing of the skits they perform in schools in New Albany.
Teen Court is a program targeted at first-time offenders and designed as a type of deferred program for the children meeting certain eligibility requirements.
In order to be eligible for the program the teen must admit to a misdemeanor or lower charge. Many of the Teen Court participants will be referred from the Juvenile Probation Office. The court session meets out a constructive sentence before a real judge through a process utilizing teenage attorneys and jurors, giving a true definition of “jury of your peers.” Constructive sentences will include community service hours, jury terms, workshops, and essays. Each case brought before the jury will be different, as will the sentences. Once the sentence is complete, there is no evidence of the offense in the teen’s record, effectively giving the teenager a second chance to be a model citizen. The idea is to target those who, with some encouragement, have the best chance of staying out of future trouble.
Teen Court Participants
As with any program, success depends on the commitment of those involved. The participants in the Teen Court program are predominately teenagers. The program utilizes teenage attorneys, teenage bailiffs, teenage court clerks, and teenage jurors. With the aid of a few adults, teenagers develop leadership abilities, teamwork skills, and a sense of self worth.
Listed below are the main players in the New Directions Teen Court.
The defendants are students in the community. After the teenagers are ticketed for their offenses, they first appear in front of the judge in a municipal, JP, or juvenile court. These will be first time offenses with a Class C misdemeanor or lower.
The attorneys are primarily volunteers. These students are put through training before they are allowed into the courtroom in an attorney capacity. This includes the Defense and Prosecuting attorneys. They may call and question witnesses and bring forth information pertaining to their argument of the case.
Six jurors make up a Teen Court jury, and their verdicts must be unanimous before they can return from deliberations. The defendants participating in this program will be required to serve at least one term as a jury member. Members will be selected from area schools. Participants will be able to select from three different terms; fall, spring and summer.
The Clerk and the Bailiff
Both the court clerk and the bailiff are teenage volunteers. The court clerk swears in the jury and the witnesses, and calls each of the cases. After closing arguments, the clerk gives the sentence forms to the bailiff. After the jury returns from deliberation and the sentence is announced, the clerk records the disposition of the case on the docket. The bailiff maintains order in the courtroom at all times. The bailiff also makes sure all participants are in their proper places, calls the court to order, and announces the judge. When the jury is ready to leave the courtroom to begin deliberations, the bailiff takes the sentence from the clerk and leads the jury to the jury room. Once a verdict is reached, the bailiff escorts the jury back into the courtroom, and after the verdict is read, the bailiff takes the verdict to the court clerk.
The judge who serves in Teen Court will be a local judge or attorney. Should the judge be unable to serve the local Teen Court Coordinator will serve as judge. An adult is used in this capacity to continue the “real effect” of a courtroom appearance.
Jacqueline Estephan is the Coordinator of Teen Court in Floyd County. The role of the coordinator is to recruit and organize Teen Court participants to act as prosecution and defense attorneys, bailiffs, and jurors. They assign and schedule defense and prosecution attorneys, and docket and supervise the preparation of their cases; attend hearings and assignments; verify teen jury service by juvenile offenders and report on compliance or non-compliance.
Sometimes the kids arrive because home isn’t such a good place to be. Sometimes they are brought because they’ve missed too much school, or the disagreements at home are out of control. Whatever the reason, Open Door Youth Services gives them a safe, supportive place to live. Some children stay a couple of days and some have to stay for months or even years. We are proud that our residential program outcomes show great success every year. Some of our proudest accomplishments include providing family counseling in-house, growing a garden maintained by our kids, and children who visit and write years after they leave.
A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist conducts therapeutic groups with the children weekly. He is also available for individual, family, and crisis counseling. All residential staff receives extensive clinical training by the therapist.
We are also proud to provide a staff person devoted to academics. One-on-one homework help, daily study time, tutoring, and supplemental instruction are provided to residents. Regular contact with teachers, guidance counselors, and other school staff is maintained. Accommodations are also made for all children not enrolled in a traditional school program.
New Directions is an after-school program in area elementary schools that provides prevention education to children utilizing the Social Decision Making Model. Children often stay in the program for several years establishing strong connections with each other and staff. Some of the children’s parents are former participants themselves. This program also promotes literacy by providing free books to children in the program through a partnership with the City of New Albany.
Our Teen Court program diverts youth from the justice system by intervening after the first offense. Children referred are defended, prosecuted, and “sentenced” by other teens. The only adult involved is the judge, one of three attorneys from Waters, Tyler, Hofmann, Scott, LLC, who volunteer for the program. Teen Courts are known for their success in preventing recidivism.
A partnership with Hazelwood Middle School allows Teen Court to provide extra efforts against truancy. The children referred through this partnership receive targeted case management to prevent further truancy, as families often need help with simple barriers to ensure the child’s regular attendance.
Through a partnership with Bloomington Meadows Hospital, we provide outpatient psychiatric care for children at our location via teleconferencing equipment. The medical professionals are located in Bloomington, while Open Door provides case management locally to ensure children receive the full scope of services associated with outpatient psychiatric care.
Diagnostic and Evaluation Services
With a referral by the Indiana Department of Child Services or Juvenile Probation, children and families can receive various types of psychological testing. This testing can help to determine the right intervention for children as soon as possible, keeping them from being shuffled around between various programs.
Problem Solving Skills Group, provided in partnership with LifeSpring Mental Health Services, is an eight week program for teens that focuses on common difficulties and practical solutions. Often children in the residential program participate, but this group is open to any child referred by Juvenile Probation.
Homemaker/Parent Aide Services are provided by Open Door in conjunction with Associates in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Families referred for Home Based Therapy and/or Case Management with ACP are eligible for this in-home practical assistance in managing a home day to day. These services are especially helpful after a child is discharged from residential care.
Mentoring has been shown to be successful. Some of our longer-term residents are here simply because there is nowhere else for them to go. These children desperately need individual attention and strong role models. Volunteers can determine their own time commitment.
Volunteer residential staff – become trained in general staff regulations and volunteer to work a half shift (4 hours) during the week or weekend. It lets the children know someone is there for unselfish reasons, and it provides a small savings to the agency.
When you volunteer you are welcome to show them a skill or teach them a craft. The kids are always ready to learn something or be involved in a game or group exercise. If this is something you may be interested in, please call and set up a time to visit the shelter and learn more about volunteering.
If you like to garden, we have a 20×30 foot garden ready for you to show some TLC. The kids would benefit from a lesson or two on gardening from a green thumb!
Have your church, civic group, co-workers, or just a group of your friends hold a fund raiser for us, or help to collect donations of personal care items, office supplies, art supplies, etc.
Volunteer requirements: Must be 21 years or older (some exceptions for groups) and willing to abide by our behavior and confidentiality guidelines. Some volunteer opportunities require a background check accompanied by a $43 fee.
Open Door Youth Services has an advisory board that meets monthly. If you would like to be part of that board, please contact our board president Pam Prince at [email protected]
Grants & Donations
Open Door Youth Services is very appreciative of grants from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, Kosair Foundation, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Ogle Foundation and all of its public and private donors.
*Donations and volunteers are always appreciated. To learn about making a donation or for volunteer opportunities, please contact our Community Liaison, Allie Johnston at 812.948.5481 or visit our webpage at www.opendooryouthservices.com and click on volunteer opportunities. You can also find us on Facebook.
Open Door Youth Services is administered for public purposes under the jurisdiction of Floyd County Circuit Court. As a program of Floyd County, ODYS qualifies as an organization described in section 170(c) (1) of the Internal Revenue Service code. All contributions to ODYS are used exclusively for a public purpose and thereby tax exempt.
Friends of Open Door Youth Services is our 501 (C)(3) that does fundraising for Open Door Youth Services. They come up with unique and fun ways to raise funds for programs and outreach to Floyd County. If you would like to be part of Friends of Open Door Youth Services, please contact Allie Johnston at 812.948.5481. This is a great way to be involved and help the youth in Floyd County.