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News & Views - Jan, 2000 Issue #65


Contact: Larry Stednitz, Senior Director,
Alternative Youth Adventure

(December 13, 1999) - Aspen Youth Alternatives, a subsidiary of Aspen Youth Services has merged with a leader in the adult corrections, field, Community Education Centers of New Jersey. This merger enables Community Education Centers to focus their efforts on juveniles. Although they have adolescent programs in New Hampshire and Wyoming, Community Education Centers have until this point concentrated their efforts in developing treatment approaches in pre-release centers, operating 2,000 adult beds in five states.

Aspen Youth Alternatives was formally the segment of Aspen Youth Services, which focused on adjudicated youth, operating programs in Utah, Montana, and South Carolina. Modeled after the successful Aspen Achievement Academy, in just four and half years, Aspen Youth Alternatives grew from a very small program to one of the largest backcountry-based programs in the country. Currently it operates four programs in three states, serving nearly 200 youth every day and is developing a fifth program.

The programs developed by this new merger will not retain the Aspen name; they will be called Alternative Youth Adventures, or “AYA.” Of particular interest to consumers is that the Montana, and Utah program has recently begun to open “AYA” to the private market. They will continue to focus on adjudicated youth, now accepting referrals both from the states as well as from professionals in the private pay sector.

According to AYA’s national director, Gordon Birch, “consumers should be reassured of AYA’s quality!” He is referring to the fact that AYA will be regularly monitored by a state agency, whose officials interview every youth who leaves AYA. Gordon Birch remarks, “in these days of concern over quality programming, AYA’s proven track record of safety and quality is only enhanced by the state’s involvement. AYA is perhaps the only private pay program of it’s kind to have this kind of scrutiny.”

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