New Omaha youth facility aims to help young offenders get back on their feet

An Omaha nonprofit aims to bring more help and resources to youth going through the juvenile justice system.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 4:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - More help is on the way for troubled youth in our area who are working through the juvenile justice system.

Radius will serve 24 young boys and girls on a new campus near 50th and Grand in Omaha.

The $25 million facility was completed with private funds. Probation officers tell 6 News Radius will allow them to keep young offenders in Douglas County, and officers will be able to come here to meet with clients.

“We’re hoping to have an office here that officers can come into and be here, and be active and present,” said probation officer Tina Wigington.

The goal here is to rehabilitate youth who can no longer stay in their homes.

“A lot of these youth struggle, been through trauma and really difficult things,” said Dr. Howard Liu, chairman of UNMC’s psychiatry department. “So I do think we need to make sure we’re not just punishing them, but also think about how to get them back on their feet.”

A new Omaha nonprofit aims to help youths in the juvenile justice system.

Everything young offenders need is here -- there’s a common area where youths will take their meals or meet with family. Living quarters for 24 youths are split into three areas; each child will have their own bedroom. All will have access to an outdoor area where they can walk and exercise. There are also three classrooms and three teachers -- programs have been approved by the state Department of Education, so the youths won’t miss any schooling.

“They will have an opportunity to catch up a little bit through credit recovery methods,” said school system administrator Tanya Martin. “So if they’ve taken classes and failed before, they can get into a system and do credit recovery and actually earn credits than they would in a regular school system.”

Not only will youth receive services in the new facility -- Radius will also reach out to work with families.

“They eventually will transition back home to their family and community, so we will work with their families throughout that process so everybody’s ready for a safe return home,” said Radius’s president and CEO, Dr. Nick Julianio.

Charles Drew Health Center is located on the new campus and will provide physical and mental health services to the youth. Officials expect youth to arrive on campus sometime next month.