clear   Appendix:   Harriet Tubman Residential Center
Auburn, New York

At A Glance

Residential "step-down" facility (between secure and group home) for girls ages 15 to 18 years who are considered minor or first-time offenders; capacity, 25 girls; funded by New York State Division for Youth with additional support from volunteers

The Harriet Tubman Center, opened in 1994, was one of seven new juvenile facilities built in New York with Title IV grant funding. Director of the Tubman Center, Inez Nieves-Evans, developed the multicultural curriculum which highlights the rich history of women in the state of New York. The center is located on state grounds and includes three buildings: residential facility (with a private bedroom for each girl), gym/media center, and work shed. The walls are decorated with portraits of famous women.

With a goal of enabling delinquent girls to return to their homes as productive members of society, the Tubman Center delivers a unique blend of education and therapy. By learning about the accomplishments of women in history, girls come to understand that they have many options in life, and that they possess the self-determination to set and reach their own goals.

The staff includes both men and women (currently three male and nine female staff members), who receive 10 hours of gender-specific training before delivering services. At least 120 hours of additional training is required during the first year of employment and 40 hours each subsequent year. Staff positions include a director, assistant director, youth-division aides (levels I-III), youth-division counselors, special-education teachers, and an education coordinator.

Girls are referred to the Tubman Center by juvenile court. Typically, girls are first-time offenders, status offenders, or have committed minor assaults. The most prominent risk factors the girls face include unstable home environments, lack of care, and poor bonding. Additionally, many girls have experienced substance abuse or physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Other risk factors relate to poor academic performance, domestic violence, negative peer relationships, family substance abuse, and family history of criminal involvement. Some girls have attempted or contemplated suicide. The population is racially diverse (the composition changes, but is currently 25 percent Hispanic, 35 percent Caucasian, and 40 percent African American).

Girls progress through a structured program at Tubman Center. When they arrive, they are granted few privileges and are under close supervision. They progress by learning and exhibiting self-control, positive decisionmaking, and relationship-building skills. Gradually, as girls set and reach personal goals, they earn more freedom and move from a highly structured environment to one that relies on the individual girl's internal control and problem-solving skills. In the final stage before release, girls are involved in planning, researching, and making decisions about their own future. Throughout the program, girls receive group and individual counseling, case management, and peer support. Treatment is individualized.

Women's studies are incorporated throughout the program in an effort to expand girls' awareness of opportunities available to them as females. A resource center stocked with videos, books, and more than 1,000 biographical files teaches girls about resourceful, inspirational women of diverse cultures who have overcome obstacles and social resistance throughout history. The curriculum teaches girls to take pride in their gender, and to develop the determination and self-esteem to overcome sexist messages they may have heard throughout their lives.

A curriculum component called "Adelante" addresses victimization issues, promoting abuse awareness, prevention, and personal empowerment. Other targeted skills include conflict resolution, time management, anger management, stress management, and independent living skills.

As girls prepare to leave the Tubman Center, their families are involved in after-care planning. Staff also help girls locate resources in their home communities to provide follow-up support and services.

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Guiding Principles for Promising
Female Programming
October 1998