Monroe County, Indiana

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History of Youth Services


The Monroe County Youth Services Bureau, Inc. was established in the early 1970's as a private not-for-profit corporation. As did other Youth Services Bureaus, it served as a referral and advocacy agency for youth at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system.

In the mid-1970's, various Monroe County groups and individuals determined that local adolescents who needed short-term care away from home and who were housed in the local jail for lack of other resources would no longer be provided for in this way. The League of Women Voters and Monroe County Juvenile Justice Task Force were two groups instrumental in mobilizing support for alternative housing. The City of Bloomington, Monroe County, and Indiana University also assisted. Indiana University agreed to house a Youth Shelter in one of the cottages of its Developmental Training Center and the city and county provided operating funds. The purpose of the Youth Shelter was to provide emergency short-term housing to youth ages 10-17.

In November 1977, the Youth Shelter accepted its first residents. A long-range goal was for the Shelter to become an independent agency. In July 1978, the Shelter began receiving Title XX funds from the State of Indiana. In 1978 the Monroe County Youth Service Bureau, Inc. experienced funding problems and discontinued its programs. In 1979 the Youth Shelter merged with the Youth Services Bureau. Direct services provided at that time, in addition to the Youth Shelter, included the school operated jointly with the Adult Basic Education department of the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation and a First Offenders' program. An advisory group, appointed by Bloomington and Monroe County officials, had served the Youth Shelter when it was part of Indiana University. With the agency's separation from the University, a Board of Directors for the new not-for-profit corporation governed the agency. In 1980, a federal grant for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act was secured.

In January 1982, the Monroe County Youth Service Bureau/Youth Shelter became a department of county government. The county directed that a Board of Directors continue to manage the agency. The variety of city, county, state, and federal funding sources already described continued to support the agency.

Obtaining free-standing physical facilities for the Shelter and agency offices was a goal since 1978. In July 1984, the agency moved into a house located at 310 East Atwater Avenue. The connection with Indiana University was not severed as the new house was rented from the University at a low rate.

From their inception, both the original Youth Service Bureau and the Youth Shelter targeted the under 18 at-risk juvenile population of Monroe County for services. Programs, in addition to the Shelter, school, and First Offenders program, have been offered as funds permitted. For example, in 1984 and 1985 a job readiness training program and job finding help were provided as part of the school program. In 1985 and 1986, intensive outreach and counseling services were provided to families referred by Child Protection Services of Monroe County. In 1991, that service was reorganized to become a home-based counseling program and expanded to include families with youth at risk of running away or of expulsion from their family. The shelter has always operated a 24-hour hotline for crisis counseling and referrals. Individual and family counseling have always been available to shelter residents and their families and on a short-term basis to other families requesting such help. Except for the Shelter, services are directed primarily at youth. There are no other emergency shelter care facilities in the primary service area for the shelter. This area is composed of Monroe, Owen, Greene, Morgan, Brown, and Lawrence counties.

The agency has worked closely with networking and youth advocacy groups to increase understanding of the need of the at-risk juvenile population and to increase availability of services to that population. Locally, the agency has worked with such groups as the Monroe County Juvenile Justice Task Force, the Community Service Council Forum, and the Association of Youth Serving Agencies. Staff members serve as official liaisons from this agency to the Juvenile Probation Department, the Child Protection Service of the Welfare Department, the Mental Health Center, and the two public school corporations in the county. At the state level, the agency is a member of the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies and a member of and accredited by the Indiana Youth Services Association.