Kalamazoo County Youth Home

Kalamazoo County Youth Home

The Kalamazoo County secure detention program, located in the 70 year old County Youth Home, experienced ongoing
operational and maintenance problems. Housing and programs occurred on multiple levels, circulation was difficult to manage, and limited space for daily activities impaired efforts to provide the comprehensive programs desired by the county. A daytreatment program for youth living at home was similarly hampered.

A successful bond election provided juvenile authorities the opportunity to implement a diverse array of programs for residents, youth in the community, and the public. The new facility, at 64 beds, has eight housing units serving both youth awaiting hearings (48 beds) and sentenced for short-term treatment (16 beds). Expansive classrooms, including space for special programs in the arts, home ec and other life skills, and indoor recreation space is provided for these youth, as well as a variety of outdoor activity spaces at housing and central program areas.

Special features include a Community Center and Intensive Learning/Daytreatment component for 40 youth. The Community Center, available for public use and special programs, provides meeting space for 200, with associated stage and warming kitchen. The Intensive Learning program serves youth who require directed education and supervision to overcome learning and behavior deficits. Life skills, arts, music, and tech lab classrooms complement more typical classrooms and multipurpose space. Meals are prepared in the detention kitchen and delivered to both the Community Center and Intensive Learning components. Intensive Learning students, visitors and the public access the central gymnasium separately from detention residents.

The design takes advantage of a sloping site by placing nonsecure public and daytreatment areas at the upper level, with all detention and vehicle access on a single, lower level.