Center opens to offer chance at new life for young women
While officials at the new Donegal Centre for adjudicated and dependent young females celebrated the opening of the Westmoreland County facility on Monday morning, the real christening took place five hours later.
About midafternoon, the program designed to help females between the ages of 14 and 21 to get their lives back on track welcomed its first resident, a court-adjudicated teenager from Erie.
"We're a gender-specific program, and there aren't very many across the state. We're very excited to offer a specially designed program to assist what we believe is a long-underserved population," program director Monica Long said.
Long, who has worked at several other residential programs for delinquent and adjudicated youths throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, said the Donegal Centre is among a handful of state-licensed facilities addressing the needs of girls and young women.
"Most similar-type facilities have programs primarily aimed at needs of young males. We feel with our new facility and specific program, we can better serve the needs of young ladies who need help," Long said.
A 2009 report by Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee emphasized that the state needed facilities to better serve young women and girls.
A Department of Justice report in 2010 noted that although the number of juvenile court delinquency cases remained steady from 2000 through 2007, they increased dramatically for females.
"In 1980, females represented 11 percent of juvenile arrests for violent offenses. By 2000, that proportion had grown to 18 percent, and by 2004, it had risen to 30 percent," the report said. "Even though arrest numbers remained higher for boys than girls during that period, arrest rates for girls increased while rates for boys decreased."
The independently owned and operated facility on Snyder Road is just off the Donegal interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a completely refurbished, four-story building that formerly housed an assisted living center, a senior citizens home and a Holiday Inn.
Washington County businessman Robert A. Bruno, who operates nursing homes in North Huntingdon and Washington, was a minor investor in the project until a major principal dropped out about two years ago.
"I still thought it was a good idea and decided to go ahead and do it," Bruno said.
After 18 months and investments of more than $1 million in renovations, including a new sewage plant, sprinkler system, alarm system, security camera systems, kitchen and laundry facilities, Bruno said he "is happy (the opening) is finally here."
There will be 42 beds available in the more secure residential program facility that will serve adjudicated and delinquent females, and 36 available for a program to assist young women who need to develop independent living skills. Initially, the center will employ 26, but Long foresees a staff of 70.
"We're not serving just urban youth but rural youth, as well. This is a perfect location for our young ladies with the activities available in this area, plus being right off the turnpike makes it convenient," she said.
Long said the facility has a state license to offer special education services including core classes in math, English, science, social studies and physical education, along with electives in Spanish, computers and art. All youths entering the program will be assessed by a licensed psychologist.
She said the program will offer a four-month nurse's aide program for older participants, plus an in-house culinary arts program.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
- A&E notebook: Christmas in July event will offer deals on shows
- MLB notebook: Nationals acquire closer Papelbon from Phillies
- Travel enthusiast scoped out antiques on the road
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- U.S. Steel posts quarterly loss, declares dividend
- Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
- 5 face trial in beating of black man in Pittsburgh
- Van Halen plays plenty of favorites in First Niagara show
- New Pens winger Fehr ready for defense-first role
- Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed