The department's three Youth Development Centers are state-operated, hardware-secure, residential facilities that provide treatment programs for delinquent male youth ages 13 to 19. Each of the Youth Development Centers is accredited by the American Correctional Association.
All students participate in a classification and orientation program. Based on the results of this evaluation, an individualized program plan is developed for each child. Good behavior and progress toward goals is encouraged and rewarded with activities allowing increased levels of responsibility. The goal of the YDC system is building skills that allow each student to move to a less restrictive setting as soon as possible. Students are prepared for release through planning with staff.
The centers operate accredited on-site schools and offer instruction in vocational programs, special education, test preparation, self-help, independent-living, and career counseling. Students can work toward and earn their high-school diploma or GED while housed at a Youth Development Center. The centers also provide medical services, religious activities and recreational programs.
Specialty services include therapy for a broad range of needs, alcohol and drug programs, sex offender treatment, speech therapy, dental care and behavior management. Programs such as Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS) help students address complex PTSD symptoms. Job fairs, student work programs and college visits help prepare students for future success and adulthood.
Other programs and activities offered within the Youth Development Center system include Music Saved My Life, which provides students with an instrument and songwriting lessons to encourage positive behavior, develop communication skills and build self-esteem through self-expression; a stock market challenge game within an economics class; basketball clinics and other sports programs; a mock court competition; volunteer activities including the building of wooden toys for homeless children; choir; science and math fairs; small engine repair training; a fatherhood program to teach parenting skills to students who are fathers; holiday events; and a Juvenile Violent Offender Prevention Program that discourages the use and possession of firearms.
The average daily census of the Youth Development Centers in fiscal year 2010-11 was 430. The median age of the population served was 17.
Mountain View Youth Development Center is located in Dandridge and led by Superintendent Steve Houston. The center can be reached at (865) 397-0174.
John S. Wilder Youth Development Center is in Somerville and led by Superintendent Jane Hayes. The center can be reached at (901) 465-7359.
Woodland Hills Youth Development Center is in Nashville and led by Superintendent Melvin Whitlow. The center can be reached at (615) 532-2000. The Woodland Hills campus includes the former New Visions Youth Development Center for female youth. The facility was integrated into the Woodland Hills campus in 2012 after the department began contracting with G4S Youth Services to serve its female population.