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Juvenile center meeting on tap in Vergennes

VERGENNES — The Department for Children and Families (DCF) next week will hold a public meeting about its recently announced plans to build a secure youth treatment center, called the Green Mountain Youth Campus, in Vergennes. 

Situated off Comfort Hill Road on state-owned property, the Green Mountain Youth Campus will focus on rehabilitation and advanced therapeutic interventions. Specifically designed for Vermont’s justice-involved youth grappling with complex trauma and treatment requirements beyond community resources, this venture aims to provide essential support where it’s needed most.

DCF, which made official its intentions on May 16, said this announcement marks the beginning of a deliberative design and development process that will include community engagement and conversations with neighbors and other stakeholders. 

“The State of Vermont is committed to hearing and addressing concerns from the community and will hold a series of public engagement forums specifically to that end,” the department said in a press release. 

The first public forum will be held on the evening of Wednesday, June 5, at the Vergennes Opera House. Visit the DCF website at dcf.vermont.gov/gmyc for the most up-to-date information. Following the initial period of public engagement, state officials will begin the process of obtaining the permits required for project development.

“The natural beauty of the area and using state-owned land were key reasons behind selecting Vergennes,” said Chris Winters, commissioner of Vermont’s Department for Children and Families. “Both the campus and the program will highlight the evidence supporting the power of nature to promote healing.This serene setting will foster a sense of belonging and connection among these youth. The focus will be on therapeutic treatment that is trauma-responsive and evidence-based. These kids are here because they need help in a specialized setting.”

This project will include 14 secure beds spread across two programs that are co-located on the same campus. The first program will be an eight-bed crisis stabilization program. This is intended for short-term stabilization, triage, and evaluation with a goal to quickly move those children into the treatment setting that best serves their needs. The second program will be a six-bed, ongoing treatment program for youth whose treatment needs indicate a more sustained secure environment.  

The Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) will oversee the project. State officials have selected ReArch Properties to be its real estate development partner. State and ReArch officials are working to develop a building that will have minimal impact on the environment and blend with the natural beauty of its surroundings.

“Together, we are building more than just a structure; we are constructing a haven of growth and healing for Vermont’s youth,” said Michael Biama of ReArch Properties. “We are committed to creating a facility that not only meets a critical need in our state and community today but also stands well prepared to serve this population into the future.”

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