Special Programs

YSA is known for its flexible, creative, and outcome based programs. Local Juvenile Probation officials look to YSA to develop custom programs to meet their needs for over 30 years, resulting in the innovative and wide range of programs presented in our website.  Therefore, much credit for our success stems form the long term direction and collaboration with JJS leaders over the years. 

New projects include a YSA Nature Center near Blue Mountain with a variety of rescue animals, such as sheep, reptiles, farm animals and parrots to provide animal therapy, environmental education and a site for community service to animals.  We plan to reopen our fishing program and marine environmental ed. program which is being relocated from the DE Bay to the upper Chesapeake Bay.  These are generally overnight adventure trips.  Other forms of adventure, used also a emotional therapy and to build self-esteem, include indoor rock climbing, ropes courses, mountain biking, lake and estuary kayaking and trips on or square rigged tall ship.  These activities serve as rewards and incentives for community service as means to promote positive emotional states and bonding to our staff and teachers which enhances learning, program participation and youth achievement. YSA has high levels of client participation in programs, with low rates of client absconding or failing, and impressive outcomes, in our rich, creative programs.

Programs taken all together can be viewed as a ladder that allows youth to step-up with positive incentives as they progress towards their goals identified in their service plans.  But when required, we can respond to negative behaviors in the least restrictive manor through our internal graduated sanctions step-down programs. Examples are Weekend ACT and the staff secure short term ACT Camp.  Short stays in step-down programs when necessary combined with a focus on positive incentives and activities, such as outing on our Chesapeake Bay Tall Ship Lioness, avoid longer term institutional care. For example, as youth who progress to Job Corps or Life Skills programs, but then have a set back, they can step-down for a short time period into staff secure ACT Camps, and then return to the step-up program without re-arrest and expulsion.  This is an example of an effective, flexible, Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) program structure.

We believe that over 30 years, the programs are consistently among the leaders in demonstrating the principles of BARJ and in-home, community-based juvenile justice