Highlands Youth Academy

Highlands Youth Academy

   In Highlands County, there was a great need for a result-producing, dynamic residential facility for youthful offenders, with a strong emphasis on vocational training. And so, from September 1993 though July 1998, the Highlands County Human Services Department, in partnership with the Children’s Services Council, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, the Champion For Children Foundation, and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, worked tirelessly to secure 37 acres from the federal government so that a moderate risk residential facility for youthful offenders could be established.

   This dream became a reality when the federal government deeded 37 acres to Highlands County, after which the county leased this ideal property site to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). They in turn contracted with G4S Youth Services, LLC to operate the facility and opened their doors in the summer of 1998.

   The program is predominantly for adjudicated youth referred by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. It consists of a 9-month residential program that instills discipline, responsibility, and most importantly, a newfound purpose. The Highlands Youth Academy provides valuable vocational and occupational training as some youth may not be able to return to the traditional school setting. This program is an excellent alternative to educating these youth.

   Success stories are abundant in how this program has transformed the lives of young people who were once heading down a troubled path. Through the Academy, many have been steered on to a much healthier course.

   One successful Academy graduate is Clarence Booth, who is now an adult, and has been featured in the media for his accomplishments. A former Olympic boxer, Clarence began to turn his life around after entering the Highlands Youth Academy. Read this newspaper article titled “Booth Leaves Troubled Past Behind to Make it Big” Read More  As evidenced by Clarence, it’s never too late to help a young person fight for a better life.

Operating Capacity: 60