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Hillcrest Academy looks for new service provider with plans to re-open within a year

A sign for Hillcrest Academy calls it "a chance to make a better choice."
Hamilton County Juvenile Court

Hamilton County’s Hillcrest Academy for young people in the juvenile justice system is expected to re-open by next fall.

The residential school and treatment facility in Springfield Township shut down four months ago. The organization running the facility, Rite of Passage, was told their contract would not be renewed. County officials say the decision is not related to an employee who was accused of sexual abuse earlier this year.

The Hamilton County Juvenile Court is now looking for another service provider to re-open, issuing a request for proposals (RFP) on Thursday. The scope of services for the facility is broader than it was before.

Get caught up: Hillcrest Academy faces imminent closure as Hamilton County looks for new management

HCJC Administrative Judge Kari Bloom says the county has been under-utilizing Hillcrest.

"The data is clear. Court-involved kids increase their ability to succeed if they stay out of detention and get the services they need close to home," Bloom said in a statement. "By extending services at Hillcrest to a variety of Court-involved kids, we can assist Jobs & Family Services, local mental health providers, and other agencies that support kids and families."

Organizations can apply to run the whole facility, or one or more of five identified areas:

  • Residential Service
  • Programmatic and Behavioral Health Service
  • Educational Service
  • Food Service
  • Medical/Dental Health Service

RELATED: Cincinnati struggling with 'record' juvenile gun violence, police say

Hillcrest is made up of 22 buildings including housing, a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, chapel, classrooms, dining hall, and administrative offices.

The RFP outlines a plan for the 144-bed facility to include:

  • Up to 36 males who have been "adjudicated delinquent for a serious offense"
  • Up to 48 children with significant mental or behavioral health concerns
  • Up to 60 children "experiencing difficulties in the community who do not rise to the level of correctional confinement but may not be safe at home."

A pre-bid conference and property walk-through is scheduled for Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bids will be accepted from Jan. 24 until Feb. 14, 2024.

Learn more on the Hamilton County Juvenile Court website.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.