BY LUIS GRONDA
A facility housing youth offenders who committed a delinquent act will be opening in the South Ozone Park area next year.
The youths will be moving into the facility as part of the Administration for Children Services’ Close to Home program, which aims to keep the children close to where they live while rehabbing back into society.
According to Christopher McKniff, a spokesperson for ACS, the children placed in the home were deemed to have committed a delinquent act by a family court judge and they then determine what kind of rehab placement they need. Those in the facility are all under the age of 16, he said.
The issue was brought up during last week’s Community Board 10 meeting, which covers the area where it will be located.
CB 10 chairperson Betty Braton, along with other board members, expressed concern for the facility opening up within their board’s limits because there is already a similar facility just one block away from where ACS intends on placing the new house.
“We think it is not fair to put two facilities around the block from each other,” she said.
There were also concerns raised about how secure the new facility will be when it is built and about the agency communicating with the community board prior to it being built. The new facility will be on 127th Street in South Ozone Park and the other location mentioned is on 128th Street. The ACS spokesperson declined to give an exact address for the new facility, saying they generally do not publicize its location due to minors living in the building.
The new facility will be a secure placement facility as opposed to the non-secure placement facility that already exists on 128th Street.
McKniff said the difference between the two is that secure placement offers the kids more services related to their specific needs, which includes a behavioral condition or a mental health condition that would require more assistance.
The agency will open six of these sites in three of the five boroughs – Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. About 120 young people will be spread across the six sites, although it is unclear exactly how many of them will be placed in the South Ozone Park facility.
“As part of the City’s juvenile justice reforms, ACS is continuing efforts to serve justice-involved young people in New York City, closer to their communities, so that their families can participate in their rehabilitation and they are able to receive Department of Education credits towards graduation. Close to Home aims to strengthen young people and their families, so that the transition back home is well-planned and supported by aftercare services,” the agency said in a statement.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, email@example.com, or @luisgronda.