02 Jun Change Offers Opportunities

From climate to politics, change is a word we hear a lot about lately. Although the connotation of change can be negative, change at the YOC has been about transforming the lives of at-risk youth. As we celebrate 25 years of serving kids, we’re proud to be a nationally recognized behavioral health treatment center.

Scouring through archived photos, newspaper clippings and county records dating back to the 19th century, there’s an overall thematic consistency: This community has been invested in kids and families for over a century.

In 1989, now-retired Circuit Court Judge Steven Caldemeyer’s observation of the at-risk youth in his courtroom led him to realize that the system wasn’t serving our kids as best it could. He began to envision combining all of the services these children needed into one location. It was this progressive vision that led to the YOC becoming a reality. In June 1992, the YOC accepted its first residents in the two residential cottages built that year. Today, the YOC’s integrated services approach serves as the model of innovation for youth service organizations across the country.

When the Delaware County Children’s Home was closed and the Youth Opportunity Center was established as a private not-for-profit agency change was inevitable. As the need for services expanded, so too would the YOC’s campus. In the mid-90’s the YOC campus expanded to include ten residential cottages, a juvenile detention center, a secure treatment center, and a central services building which is home to classrooms, main kitchen, gymnasium, counseling space and administrative offices. These expansions were necessary to support the hundreds of kids living on campus.

As the YOC expanded its treatment programs, it also focused  on implementing information technology across campus, employee training and development, and specialized clinical services for kids and their families. These core priorities remain in place today.

In the early 2000s, the YOC continued to strive for excellence, and became an accredited treatment program by the Council on Accreditation. Becoming an accredited agency emphasized the organization’s priority to provide the highest quality treatment services for children. The YOC takes great pride in this distinction and its ability to exceed national standards of excellence within our industry.

Today societal changes have altered the complexity of the children we see. Family dynamics have changed, as has the severity of the mental health issues we see. These increasingly intricate and heightened needs require highly specialized care, programs and staff. We are fortunate to have committed team members dedicated to providing the highest quality services to children and their families.

“It is important to understand that the presenting problems of our youth today are very different than they were 10 years ago. We are committed to adapting our services to fit the ever-changing needs of the kids placed in our care. Our response has been to open new programs, change existing programs, and add several new support services to ensure our kids receive the quality care they need and deserve,” stated Ashley Williams, Director of Program Services.

As we celebrate 25 years of serving kids it is important to remember our humble beginnings, celebrate our accomplishments, and plan for the next generation of children and families. “Being resilient, steady and mission consistent has served us well over the years,” said Lynn Doppler, 25-year employee and Chief Operations Officer.

“We’ve always been committed to transforming kids and families, and that’s something that will never change.”


This story is an excerpt, as it appears in the 2016 Annual Report. To view the full report click here.