CTY0406 challenger mural 1

Courtesy of Geoffrey Prather

A mural is shown on the wall on the side of a building at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, today, will consider repurposing the Challenger Memorial Youth Center — the largest juvenile detention facility in the United States — into a voluntary residential educational and career training center for under-served, transition-age youth.

LANCASTER — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, today, will consider a motion by Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger to re-purpose Challenger Memorial Youth Center — the largest juvenile detention facility in the United States — into a voluntary residential educational and career training center for under-served, transition-age youth.

The proposed program will serve young women and men ages 18 to 25 who were formerly involved in the criminal justice and/or foster care systems, who are homeless or who are otherwise opportunity youth. Those participants who are parents will be permitted to bring their young children, according to the motion.

Barger’s motion asks the Board of Supervisors to direct the county CEO through the Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations Branch, to advocate during Fiscal Years 2020-21 and 2021-22 for an additional $25 million for the project. 

The motion would also direct the CEO to coordinate with multiple agencies and departments to identify and enter into exclusive negotiations with a non-profit organization for the design and operation of a pilot residential vocational training program. 

In addition, the motion directs them to develop recommendations, including an implementation schedule and evaluation of funding needs for the program and a review of available funding streams for capital development and report back to the Board in 45 days. 

“The re-imagining of Challenger will be a multi-step and multi-phase process, building upon the lessons learned in the renovation of Camps Kilpatrick and Gonzales and will lead to a first of its kind program for supporting and developing transition aged youth, in line with many of the priorities of our Board,” the motion said.

The 220,000-square-foot Challenger Memorial Youth Center was built on 65 acres at Avenue I and 50th Street West in the late 1980s to address a need for more juvenile detention beds. It is comprised of six separate juvenile camps and housed up to 700 youth. As the Los Angeles County Probation Department increased its focus on community-based services and diversion, the juvenile detention population has decreased by close to 75% over the last decade, according to a county background.

The Board of Supervisors will conduct a virtual meeting at 9:30 a.m., today.

To listen by telephone call 877-873-8017 and enter the access code when prompted. The access code for English is 111111 and the access code for Spanish is 222222.

To address the Board on all regular agenda items, call 877-226-8215, using participant code 1336503, starting at 9 a.m.

Written public comments may be submitted through the website https://publiccomment.bos.lacounty.gov, which will become part of the official record.

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