Author Topic: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS  (Read 17560 times)

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Offline Ursus

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SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
« on: January 02, 2010, 02:54:12 PM »
Breaking News
Posted: Jan 2, 2010

Sequel TSI Holdings, LLC (Three Springs)
Huntsville, AL

Three Springs Acquired By Sequel Youth And Family Services

Contact:
Aida Porras
VP Marketing
256-880-3339 x222
http://www.threesprings.com

December 30, 2009

Sequel Youth and Family Services, a nationally recognized leader in youth services, announces the acquisition of privately held Three Springs, Inc. (TSI) a leading provider of specialized behavioral health treatment for adolescents. Three Springs Inc. headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama is a strategic and valued addition to Sequel. The acquisition will extend the company's geographic footprint with the combined companies operating 22 programs across the country. Paint Rock Valley, an outdoor therapeutic program located in Trenton, AL and Auldern Academy, a therapeutic boarding school located in Siler City, NC will add private educational and therapeutic programming to Sequel's continuum of service. Leadership in these programs will remain unchanged. Three Springs' referral sources, clients and families will continue to receive the same level of quality and support as both companies will work to ensure a seamless transition. The merger of these organizations will create a company that is stronger programmatically and financially. The combined entity will be stronger than either company standing alone and perfectly positions the organization for growth and continued service excellence. Most importantly, Chairman, Jay Ripley states, "we will stay true to the operating philosophy and core values shared by both Sequel and Three Springs."

For additional details please contact Aida Porras, VP of Marketing at (256) 880-3339.


Copyright © 2009, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Offline Ursus

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Who is Sequel Youth and Family Services?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 06:42:42 PM »
Who is Sequel Youth and Family Services?

    Another one of these "juvenile education and reform" conglomerates, apparently...

One with a number of personnel ties to Youth Services International Inc., which, if I'm not mistaken, is or was also a former owner of Three Springs, no?

I'm guessing that the acquisition of Three Springs represents part of Sequel's efforts at expansion, expressed below as "looking ... to add additional bases of operation throughout the country for these highly-sought-after services."  

-------------- • -------------- • --------------

COMPANY HISTORY

Sequel Youth and Family Services (SYFS) was founded by Cindy Cox, Adam Shapiro, and Jay Ripley, and in June, 1999 began managing the Clarinda Academy in Clarinda, Iowa at the request of the Clarinda Youth Corporation. The following year, in December, 2000, we entered into a management contract with the Woodward Youth Corporation to operate the Woodward Academy in Woodward, Iowa. Normative Services Prep School (NSI), located in Sheridan, Wyoming, followed in January, 2003, as the NSI Board sought a smooth transition from the school’s retiring founding principals to a manager that shared their core values and operating philosophy.  In February, 2004 we began managing Mingus Mountain Academy (MMA), located in Prescott Valley, Arizona, as a result of a search by its Board for a manager to continue MMA’s rich history of serving adolescent females in the equestrian tradition of its founders. In the spring of 2007, Lakeside Academy, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan entered into a management contract with Sequel Youth and Family Services.  These five programs constitute the foundation of our Academy Division.    

In July 2006, we launched SequelCare, our Community-Based Services (CBS) division. SequelCare of Iowa was established in the summer of 2006 and serves youth and families across the state of Iowa. In the spring of 2007, SequelCare purchased Gift of Life, a CBS provider located in Pinellas Park, Florida and changed the name to SequelCare of Florida. SequelCare of Florida provides a broad continuum of services in the Tampa Bay area. In August of 2008, SequelCare purchased DayBreak Behavioral Resources in Prescott, Arizona and changed the name to SequelCare of Arizona. In addition we are looking at a number of opportunities to add additional bases of operation throughout the country for these highly-sought-after services.  

The combination of our Academy and Community-Based Services divisions positions us to become the premier full-service provider of youth and family services nationally. We are proud of all of our programs, and believe that they are among the elite behavioral health programs for troubled and at-risk youth in the country.

Sequel continues to seek high-quality Academy and CBS opportunities. Accordingly, if you are seeking high-quality, professional, and proven leadership for your troubled or at-risk youth population, please feel free to contact us.


© Copyright 2009 Sequel Youth and Family Services, All Rights Reserved.
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Offline Ursus

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Sequel Youth & Family Services and Patriot Capital
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2010, 11:51:39 PM »
At some point, Sequel Youth and Family Services solicited the investment services of Patriot Capital. SYFS is described as follows on Patriot Capital's page titled Prior Portfolio Companies:

    Sequel Youth and Family Services is a for-profit education and correctional facility services company. The Company develops and operates programs for at-risk and delinquent juveniles. Sequel's management team approached Patriot Capital with a five year business plan and financing strategy that would allow the Company to execute its internal growth, acquisition strategy and meet the shareholder needs. Patriot Capital presented a structural alternative to equity financing that would meet management and shareholder needs and enable the company to successfully execute its strategy.[/list]
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    Offline Ursus

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    SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES, Executive Team
    « Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 10:51:49 AM »
    EXECUTIVE TEAM



    John ("Jay") F. Ripley
    Chairman

    Mr. Ripley is Chairman of Sequel Youth and Family Services (SYFS). He was a founding stockholder of Youth Services International (YSI) and served as its President and COO as well as its CFO. Mr. Ripley also has served as President and CEO of Precision Auto Care, a publicly held, worldwide franchiser of automotive service centers, as well as Corporate Controller and then VP of Eastern Division Retail Operations for Jiffy Lube, the leading franchiser of quick lube centers in America. Mr. Ripley began his career with Ernst & Young, CPAs, in Baltimore, MD.

    Contact Information
    Phone: (540) 338-5182
    Email: ashapiro@sequelyouthservices.com



    Steve Gilbert
    Senior Vice President,
    Business Development


    Mr. Gilbert is Senior Vice President of Sequel Youth and Family Services. He began his career in the childcare industry as a youth counselor at the Clarinda Academy in 1992. He was employed with Youth Services International (YSI) for seven years and served the company as the Clarinda Academy Admissions Director, Regional Admissions and Marketing Director, and the National Marketing and Business Development Director. Mr. Gilbert joined Sequel Youth and Family services as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development in 1999.

    Contact Information
    Phone: 712-310-9395
    Email: mmoses@sequelyouthservices.com



    John Stupak
    Senior Vice President,
    President of SequelCare


    Mr. Stupak is President of Sequel Care and has over 25 years experience in the human services field. Before joining Sequel in 2007, John worked for NHS Human Services, a large and diversified provider of behavioral health and human services. Mr. Stupak graduated from Temple University with a Master's Degree from the School of Social Administration with a concentration in planning, research, and evaluation.

    Contact Information
    Phone: (267) 419-8913
    Email: spotts@sequelyouthservices.com


    © Copyright 2009 Sequel Youth and Family Services, All Rights Reserved.
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    Offline Che Gookin

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    Re: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
    « Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 11:16:34 AM »
    Jesus, talk about being saved from the edge of the abyss. Most of the recent reports I've gathered about 3 turds over facebook showed me that they were on the very edge of going under.

    1) New Dominion was chopped..
    2) Duck River and Wayne County were axed..
    3) The Paint Rock Valley programs were consolidated, meaning the girl's side was rolled into the boy's side. (they were two separate campuses before)

    There is a list on facebook showing all the programs that have been sent down, I'll find it later. Reading this is very depressing as by all accounts this is a program that needs to be shutdown. Just reading this made me want to curl up in a corner with a bottle of Johnie Walker and tie one on. I figure one shot for every kid I saw weeping at that damn place is about right. Ought to keep me busy for  a week or two.
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    Offline Ursus

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    YOUTH SERVICES INTERNATIONAL's prior ownership of 3 SPRINGS
    « Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 11:59:12 AM »
    Che, would you care to comment on Youth Services International Inc. prior ownership of Three Springs? Your insight would be greatly appreciated.

    The top two players in Sequel Youth and Family Services are former YSI people, namely Jay Ripley (SFYS Chairman) and Adam Shapiro (SFYS CEO). In fact, it made me wonder just how they came up with the "Sequel" name, i.e., whether SFYS is supposed to be some sort of sequel to YSI.  :D

    Here's when the proposed YSI acquisition of Three Springs was announced:

    -------------- • -------------- • --------------

    The Baltimore Sun
    Youth Services shares rise on acquisition Owings Mills firm buying Ala.-based Three Springs

    Stock price climbs 14%
    $27 million deal could boost revenue by more than a third


    April 17, 1996 | By Jay Hancock, SUN STAFF

    Wall Street found more reasons to love Youth Services International Inc. yesterday, as the Owings Mills company announced an acquisition that would boost revenue by more than a third. The news propelled its stock price upward by 14 percent.

    Youth Services agreed to buy Three Springs Inc., which is based in Huntsville, Ala., and runs programs for emotionally troubled adolescents. Three Springs operates 13 facilities across the Southeast and is best known for its "therapeutic wilderness" program.

    Fast-growing Youth Services runs centers for juvenile delinquents across the country. Its executives signed a letter of intent to buy Three Springs for 800,000 shares of Youth Services stock, worth about $27 million yesterday.

    Financial analysts praised the deal as one that would extend Youth Services' reach, add to its correctional tools and boost profits almost immediately.

    "If they took over an operating facility in the past, they would delete it and put in their own program," said Dennis Moran, who follows Youth Services for financial house A. G. Edwards in St. Louis. "[Three Springs] has a program that works. They've picked up a growth company that they don't have to turn around."

    Three Springs' management will stay on, and Youth Services is expected to add its wilderness program to its treatment menu.

    Youth Services stock, which could have been had for $8.25 a share less than a year ago, popped by $4.25 yesterday to close at $34.25, a new high.

    "It's a good acquisition. It's really going to solidify their market position in the Southeast as one of the major players," said William Bavin, who follows the company for Baltimore financial house Ferris, Baker Watts. "It ought to add a decent amount to earnings."

    Youth Services earned $2.2 million on $53.1 million in revenue for the year ending June 1995. The Three Springs deal is expected to add another $20 million in revenue.

    Youth Services said the acquisition would boost earnings, but didn't specify how much.

    Even so, at 54 times this year's estimated earnings per share, Youth Services stock is expensive even by the inflated standards of today's market. One explanation: It is being discovered by Wall Street.

    "YSI is getting on the map," Mr. Moran said.

    In recent weeks, Genesis Merchant, A.G. Edwards and NatWest Securities all assigned financial analysts to the stock, nearly doubling the coverage and raising Youth Service's profile among mutual funds, pension funds and other deep-pocketed investors seeking the next hot growth company. Genesis, Edwards and NatWest all gave Youth Services "buy" ratings.

    Wall Street has reason to be interested, Youth Services' fans say. It is the biggest company in what some measure as a multi-billion dollar industry, but its 1995 revenues weren't even $54 million.

    Law enforcement agencies increasingly are hiring contractors like Youth Services for youth corrections work. And another trend may help the company even as it hurts society: The number of juvenile delinquents is expected to grow, as baby-boomers' kids move into their teens.

    Three Springs has a capacity of about 500 beds. Youth Services treats about 4,000 youths at 19 facilities in 12 states.

    If it goes through, and analysts expect that it will, the acquisition will add to Youth Services' facilities in Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia and introduce the company to Alabama and Georgia. Youth Services recently completed the buy of a Tampa, Fla., facility that is expected to add about $10 million in annual revenue.

    At almost eight times Three Springs' annual cash flow of $3.5 million, its $27 million price tag is "a little high, but it's probably worth it," Mr. Bavin said.


    Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert Street, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore, MD 21278
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    Offline Ursus

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    Jay Ripley (LinkedIn profile)
    « Reply #6 on: January 04, 2010, 02:47:00 PM »
    Some more info on Sequel Youth and Family Services co-founder and chairman Jay Ripley... Note the 5 years spent as president and COO of Youth Services International Inc.

    Also of relevance is the 5 years Jay Ripley spent at Jiffy Lube. Jiffy Lube founder Jim Hindman ... is also the founder of Youth Services International.

    -------------- • -------------- • --------------

    Jay Ripley
    Chairman, Sequel Youth & Family Services
    Washington D.C. Metro Area

      Current
      • Co-Founder and Chairman at Capitol Burger, LLC
        [li]Co-Founder and Chairman at Sequel Youth and Family Services
      Past
      • President and CEO at Precision Auto Care
      • President and COO at Youth Services International
      • Vice President at Jiffy Lube
      • Supervisor/Manager at Ernst & Young
      Education
      • University of Baltimore
      Connections - 60 connections

      Industry - Individual & Family Services

      Websites
      [/li][/list]

      Jay Ripley's Experience

      Co-Founder and Chairman
      Capitol Burger, LLC
      (Restaurants industry)
      2007 — Present (3 years )
        Capitol Burger owns and operates The Burger Joint restaurant in Bethesda.
      Co-Founder and Chairman
      Sequel Youth and Family Services
      (Privately Held; 51-200 employees; Information Technology and Services industry)
      1999 — Present (11 years )
        Sequel is a national leader in the behavioral health industry, serving adolescents and their families in both residential and community-based programs.
      President and CEO
      Precision Auto Care
      (Public Company; 11-50 employees; PACI; Automotive industry)
      1995 — 1998 (3 years )

      President and COO
      Youth Services International
      (Public Company; 1001-5000 employees; YSII; Individual & Family Services industry)
      1990 — 1995 (5 years )

      Vice President
      Jiffy Lube
      (Public Company; 51-200 employees; Automotive industry)
      1985 — 1990 (5 years )
        Started as VP Controller, then became VP Eastern Region
      Supervisor/Manager
      Ernst & Young
      (Partnership; 10,001 or more employees; EY; Accounting industry)
      1979 — 1985 (6 years )

      Jay Ripley's Education

      University of Baltimore
        BS , Business

      Additional Information

      Jay Ripley's Websites:

      Jay Ripley's Groups:
      • The Golf Club at Lansdowne

      Jay Ripley's Contact Settings

      Interested In:
      • job inquiries
      • expertise requests
      • business deals
      • reference requests
      • getting back in touch
      « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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      Offline Che Gookin

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      Re: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
      « Reply #7 on: January 04, 2010, 08:19:44 PM »
      Quote
      Adam Shapiro (SFYS CEO)

      If he's related to John Shapiro who used to be an adventure course guide or whatnot for Three Springs Paint Rock Valley Boys then things just got really interesting. YSI itself has been in business for awhile. I remember meeting a guy at Eckerds who worked for them. If my memory serves me right, they are nothing more than state contract detention centers.

      Basically, a holding pen of sorts.
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      Offline Ursus

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      Youth Services International and Jiffy Lube
      « Reply #8 on: January 05, 2010, 11:53:04 AM »
      Quote from: "Ursus"
      Jiffy Lube founder Jim Hindman ... is also the founder of Youth Services International.
      Excerpt from an earlier post, regarding Youth Services International Inc., originally from an old issue of Prison Privatisation Report International, a bulletin (then) put out ten times a year by the UK-based Prison Reform Trust (PRT):

        The company was started in 1991 by Jim Hindman, an acknowledged former child delinquent. By the 1970s, at the age of 35, he was a millionaire running a chain of private nursing homes. He then made - and lost - another fortune by starting Jiffy Lube, the famous American 'quick oil change' franchise. He sold this in 1989 after the company had defaulted on loans of more than $69 million, but Hindman himself still came out with $2 million. His next venture materialised when he realised the potential from juvenile crime figures in the US and the amount of money spent on youth rehabilitation programmes - about $3 billion a year at federal, state and municipal levels.[/list]
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        Offline Ursus

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        Re: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
        « Reply #9 on: January 05, 2010, 12:03:47 PM »
        Quote from: "Che Gookin"
        YSI itself has been in business for awhile. I remember meeting a guy at Eckerds who worked for them. If my memory serves me right, they are nothing more than state contract detention centers.

        Basically, a holding pen of sorts.
        I see organizations like this as logical extensions of the movement to privatize prisons. The folk who benefit most from them are not the community, not the employees, not the inmates ... but venture capital firms who exploit them as investment opportunities.

        See also:

          Global privatization of prisons and juvenile reform programs
          viewtopic.php?f=51&t=29777[/list]
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          Offline Che Gookin

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          Re: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
          « Reply #10 on: January 05, 2010, 09:42:10 PM »
          Yeah saw that article last night, confirmed everything I already know. Not sure what this means for Three Springs though. Given the roots of Sequel being in the private teen prison business it stands to reason that the TS lockdown facilities are going to be looked at over the residential schools.

          Alabama alone has courtland, madison, tuskegee, and new beginnings for light to heavy security lockdowns. Florida has Daytona and a couple others, I think.
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          Offline Ursus

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          Ernst & Young, "heavy hitter" lobbyists
          « Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 10:29:17 AM »
          Regarding SYFS Co-founder and Chairman Jay Ripley's prior employment, specifically:

            Supervisor/Manager
            Ernst & Young
            (Partnership; 10,001 or more employees; EY; Accounting industry)
            1979 — 1985 (6 years)[/list]

            Ernst & Young is one of the top seven Lobbying Firms based on income over the past dozen years, raking in just over $143 million for that time period:



            Their top client in 2009 was ... Accounting firm Ernst & Young, paying themselves $1,784,201. Funny how that works, sometimes.

            Heavy Hitters
            Ernst & Young

              Ernst & Young is one of the world's largest accounting firms, offering its clients everything from auditing services to tax advice. Over the years, the firm has successfully led efforts to block increased federal oversight of the accounting industry. Yet the collapse of Enron and the corporate scandals that followed have largely put the company on the defensive. In 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Ernst & Young, accusing the firm of violating ethics rules when it was the chief auditor of one of its key business partners, PeopleSoft. At the same time, federal investigators launched efforts to crack down on companies that avoid taxes by incorporating in Bermuda or other offshore tax havens—a practice that has generated plenty of revenue for Ernst & Young over the years.[/list]


              Copyright © 2009 Center for Responsive Politics
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              Offline Ursus

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              Re: SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES acquires THREE SPRINGS
              « Reply #12 on: January 10, 2010, 11:21:43 PM »
              This person has apparently been working at Three Springs (Mountain Home, ID) since the Summer of 2007. Looks like it'll be binnis as usual, despite the acquisition by Sequel Youth and Family Services...

              -------------- • -------------- • --------------

              Wednesday, December 23, 2009
              A New Job!!!

              I have been keeping a secret. Some of you knew something was up. I called and asked to use people as referrences. I even called asking for an address I lived at for two months. Many many details were needed. It is complete. It is official.

              Starting TODAY I am working as a Special Eduation Teacher for Sequel Youth and Family Services. That's right as of today. If you follow the link you may notice Sequel seems very similar to Three Springs.

              That is indeed the case. Similar, but not identical. Sequel acquired Three Springs facilities and employees. Although I am now a Sequel Employee I still work at Three Springs...for now anyway.

              Posted by AlwaysMee at 4:58 PM
              Labels: life, work
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              Offline Ursus

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              SEQUEL YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES ~ residential Programs
              « Reply #13 on: January 13, 2010, 12:50:42 PM »
              Sequel Youth and Family Services owns some facilities, and has management contracts with other facilities. As noted above on their Company History page, their (formerly) five residential programs are actually owned by other organizations. Three Springs would appear to be their first residential program owned outright.

              SequelCare, their Community-Based Services (CBS) division has three locations (Iowa, Florida, Arizona), all of which they own. At least the latter two were previous "community-based" programs: Gift of Life in Pinellas Park, Florida, purchased in 2007; and DayBreak Behavioral Resources based in Prescott, Arizona, purchased in 2008.

              -------------- • -------------- • --------------

              Residential Programs managed by Sequel Youth and Family Services:

              Clarinda Academy · http://www.clarindaacademy.org
              Clarinda Academy was established 1992 as a residential foster care facility for at-risk and adjudicated delinquent males between the ages of 12 and 18. Over the years, Clarinda has expanded its continuum of services and currently offers long-term residential treatment for males and females, 90-day impact programming, shelter care, and transitional living services. With a licensed capacity of 259 students, Clarinda Academy serves youth from several different states.  The Clarinda Academy environment focuses on behavioral change through the establishment of a positive peer culture and the intervention of negative behavior.

              Mingus Mountain Academy · http://www.mmaaz.com
              Mingus Mountain Academy was founded in January 1985 to help young girls from Arizona who had special emotional needs. It now attracts girls from across the nation. Mingus proudly earned Joint Commission accreditation and also North Central school accreditation. A highly qualified staff of professionals provides medical, clinical, educational and recreational services. In 2004, Mingus Mountain Academy became part of the Sequel Youth and Family Services organization.  

              Normative Services Prep · http://www.normativeservices.com
              Normative Services was founded in 1991 in Sheridan, Wyoming as a small residential treatment program for adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems. As additional programs were developed and the school's reputation grew, other jurisdictions throughout Wyoming took notice of a successful concept: "troubled adolescents" were taking significant responsibility for their own treatment programs. Referring agencies saw the positive results of the norms-based approach, and student population increased. The result was growth and the need for expansion to the fully developed campus on the present site some three miles west of Sheridan. Demand for Normative's services has continued to increase. Our belief in our students’ abilities, potential, and capacity to thrive and excel in a safe and challenging environment grows stronger each year.

              Woodward Academy · http://www.wwacademy.com
              Woodward Academy opened on the campus of the Woodward Resource Center on July 10, 1995 with four youths in attendance. Today, Woodward Academy is a 168-bed residential facility for male youth (adjudicated delinquent or CINA -- child in need of assistance). Woodward Academy is located in Woodward, Iowa, 30 miles NW of Des Moines. Woodward Academy offers three different residential programs ranging from 90 days to 18 months, working with youth from 12 to 18 years old; each of these programs contain a chemical dependency component and complete health care services.  Woodward Academy also offers two non-residential programs, day school and community-based services. The non-residential programs serve the greater Des Moines and surrounding areas.

              Lakeside Academy · http://www.lakesideacademy.net
              Lakeside Academy was established by community leaders in 1907. The original facility was a farmhouse on 46 acres of land and first served nine boys who worked the grounds to learn employable agricultural skills and attended community schools. In 2007 Lakeside Academy entered into a management agreement with Sequel Youth and Family Services. Sequel Youth and Family Services began managing the facility in July 2007. Lakeside Academy offers residential treatment and sexual offender programming to male youth aged 12-18.


              © Copyright 2009 Sequel Youth and Family Services, All Rights Reserved.
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              Offline Ursus

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              Kalamazoo's Lakeside Academy residents rebound...
              « Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 01:04:32 PM »
              Lakeside Academy has been around the longest, but they ran into some real hard times in 2006 and had to close. My guess is that part of the deal of getting them operational again may have been the management contract with Sequel. Here is Lakeside's extremely abbreviated version of their 103-year history:

                History
                Lakeside for Children was established by community leaders in 1907. The original facility was a farmhouse on 46 acres of land and first served nine boys who worked the grounds to learn employable agricultural skills and attended community schools. Over the years, Lakeside grew into a 79-bed facility that served boys, girls and sexual offenders. In July, 2007, Lakeside for Children entered into a management agreement with Sequel Youth and Family Services, who began managing the facility under the name Lakeside Academy.[/list]

                Just one year later, things sound hopeful:

                -------------- • -------------- • --------------

                Kalamazoo Gazette
                Kalamazoo's Lakeside Academy residents rebound from troubled past with summer basketball program
                By Jeff Barr
                July 17, 2008, 11:00AM



                Lakeside Academy student Dylan Hancock, 16, jokes with Titan Club members Wednesday while watching the Lakeside Academy Titans basketball team cruise to a 14-point victory at The Courthouse athletic facility in Portage.
                Jennifer Harnish | Kalamazoo Gazette


                They were playing basketball, but they were learning so much more.

                A team of former car thieves, gun-toters, drug-dealers and gang-bangers -- all under 18 and residents at Kalamazoo's Lakeside Academy -- played their third summer-league basketball game Wednesday night. And they operated as one in The Courthouse athletic facility in Portage, employing a brand of teamwork and togetherness that has been carved into their personalities since living at Lakeside.

                "Basketball is a tool, but it's secondary to what's really going on here," said Lakeside's coach Will Cowen, 26, shortly after watching his Lakeside Titans beat a team made up largely of Comstock High School basketball team members. "There are young athletes out here getting a second chance at life, learning lessons that somehow they missed or were unavailable to them before they came to Lakeside."

                The Titans didn't miss much Wednesday night, cruising to a 72-58 victory to up their record to 2-1 in summer-league ball. Lakeside opened its season with a 20-point loss to this same team three weeks ago, so the victory was doubly sweet.

                The selflessness necessary to win basketball games showed itself throughout Wednesday's contest. There were tip-passes, and forwards with contested layups giving up the ball to a teammate who could go in alone. It was a display of constant teamwork, from the time Larry Fields hit the first hoop in the steamy Portage gym to team during Wednesday's game at The Courthouse in Portage.


                Lakeside Academy Coach Will Cowen speaks to his basketball team Wednesday night during a 14-point victory. Lakeside, a residential facility for youthful criminal offenders, recently reopened after closing in Oct. 2006.
                Jennifer Harnish | Kalamazoo Gazette


                "I messed up before I got here, I missed school, my grades dropped and I couldn't play basketball," said Shelton Coats, of Lansing, 16, who was sent to Lakeside as part of a sentence for carrying a weapon in a school zone when he was 15. "I didn't have any self-discipline at all, and that's what got me into trouble. By coming to Lakeside, and by playing basketball, I'm learning self-discipline. It takes a while, but it's coming."

                Lakeside team members must earn the right to play on the team by remaining free of discipline issues at Lakeside. Another option for kids who remain out of trouble at Lakeside is the Titan Club, which filled the gym Wednesday night to root for their team.

                Residents at Lakeside Academy -- funded by Lakeside for Children, a nonprofit organization, and managed by Sequel Youth and Family Services -- have plenty of time to learn self-discipline. The average stay is anywhere from six to nine months, during which time residents must pass a four-phase behavioral-adjustment program and given a recommendation by Lakeside staff to the court system from where they came.

                The 88 residents comprise youthful offenders from throughout Michigan and Indiana who are deemed qualified for the program rather than be sent to a juvenile home, jail or prison. Kalamazoo offenders are rare at Lakeside because one of the most important facets of such programs is to remove troubled kids from the area in which they found trouble. There are other programs -- such as Sequel's Clarinda Academy in Indiana -- where Kalamazoo juveniles can be sent.

                "Every kid here is reachable, savable, worthy of the time that is spent on them," said Michelle Gothard, 42, a youth counselor at Lakeside. "These are kids who've been told their whole lives that they are worthless, that they'll never amount to anything. Worse yet, some of them are not cared about enough to get told anything at all.

                "At Lakeside, they have to work hard, have to work on themselves to get ready to go back into the world and interact in society. But they are given the tools to do it, and they know that they are worthy of being cared about."

                It took care and planning for Lakeside Academy to recently re-open its doors after being closed in October 2006. Lack of funding and program shortcomings forced the closure, and the Lakeside for Children group took action. The nonprofit organization, which still owns the property, hired Sequel to manage the facility.

                "It's a great program, and there are some kids coming through it who will go out there and succeed in society, without a doubt," said Cole Houser, 23, a team leader at Lakeside who formerly worked at Sequel's Clarinda facility in Indiana. "We get very specific with them about their own individual situations.

                "Sometimes they try to give us general explanations, generic answers that could apply to anyone with behavioral problems. But we force them to get specific about what happened to them, how they could have acted differently, and how they will act differently in the future should a similar situation arise."

                In order to qualify for Lakeside rather than be sent to a correctional facility, potential residents are first recommended by the courts, then interviewed by Lakeside Executive Director Travis Faulds and Director of Support Services Thom Lattig. If an offender seems legitimately welcome to the opportunity of turning his life around, seems willing to follow the rules and programs at Lakeside, and there is room at the academy, he then qualifies for acceptance.

                Residents then begin the process of retraining themselves. Anger management, peer pressure and decision-making are all part of the process.

                And, don't forget teamwork.

                Contact Jeff Barr at jbarr@kalamazoogazette.com or 388-8581.


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