SILVER SPRINGS - The public may visit the Western Nevada Regional Youth Center a few weeks before the first set of juveniles are sent to the 29-bed justice treatment facility.
An open house from noon to 3 p.m. on July 12 will give visitors an idea what director Lon Cook has in mind for improving the children who are placed there from the courts in Carson City, Lyon, Churchill, Douglas and Storey counties.
Cook has worked closely with the judges, chief juvenile probation officers and county managers in the five counties to develop a program for the center. His concept will touch on children's progress through the justice system long before they arrive in Silver Springs and continue once they are released.
He drew up a six-page planning and referral format that will serve as the blueprint for a child's treatment program. The five counties each made suggestions that added up to a common approach for the region.
The format will have an assessment of what is known about the child; what goals the center wish to accomplish with the child; and proposed transition planning when the child leaves that will be considered before the child even arrives. This document will also be used when Cook's staff formulates an individual program with parents and the child.
Cook said planning brings together correctional, mental health, social justice and education components to treat children convicted in juvenile courts.
"This is a very successful effort for a creative resource for young people that connects all those levels," Cook said.
The open house next week nears the end of a long journey for the five counties that has involved six years of planning and a one-year delay in opening the center. Cook hopes to have the first children in Silver Springs by early August.
The center has a five-room wing for 15 boys and a four-room wing for 12 girls. Both wings converge in the day room that will serve assorted purposes from dining room and free time room to a place to bring together counseling groups and skill development groups.
These areas are all staff secured - no bars, no locked doors. The center also has a secure area with two cells that will each detain either one or two youths.
In recent weeks, Cook fully furnished a building that has sat nearly empty for nearly a half year. He has also hired four of the 22 employees to run the center and he intends to have offers out for all the positions before the open house.
Cook regards himself as both an outsider and an insider to the region. He grew up near enough to here - in Modoc County near Tulelake, Calif. - and he has relatives scattered around Northern Nevada in Elko, Smith Valley, Lovelock, perhaps even Carson City and Carson Valley.
He said he ran a similar program in Portland, Ore., before coming to Silver Springs at the end of March. He was director of secure assessment intervention and transition program in the Multnomah County Juvenile Probation Department.
The program was featured in a PBS documentary.
"I would like this place to have the same recognition," he said about the Western Nevada Regional Youth Center.
The center brings together five quite different counties. Cook has already scoped out how different counties can serve different needs for the center.
"They have a collection of strengths," Cook said. "For example, one county may have a detention center and one may have a program coordinated for treatment. They have a strong buy-in on a multi-disciplinary approach."
What: Open house
Where: Western Nevada Regional Youth Center
Address: 3550 Graham Ave. in Silver Springs, off Ramsey-Weeks Cutoff near Highway 50
When: noon to 3 p.m. July 12
What it is : A 29-bed facility for boys and girls in the juvenile justice system who need treatment rather than being in juvenile hall.