Avon Park Youth Academy and Street Smart Program

An Effective Practice


Avon Park Youth Academy (APYA) is a secure custody residential program that provides remedial education and intensive vocational training to moderate-risk male youth committed to the Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Students come from all over the state and range from 16 to 18 years of age. The program houses up to 200 individuals at a time, for an average stay of 270 days. Street Smart (SS) is the reentry component of the program. It provides community support as well as educational and vocational services, on a voluntary basis, after youth is release to the community.

The program is unique in that it targets older juveniles who are not likely to return home or to school, and who do not have cognitive disabilities, dual diagnosis, or a history of taking psychotropic drugs. APYA/SS highlights include: (1) an abundance of resources to aide academic and vocational instruction, (2) strong community partnerships that allow youth to engage in field trips, landscaping, and other community projects, (3) vocational courses that meet the needs of the young adult population, (3) after care services for a year after the youth’s release, and (4) a highly qualified staff.

G4S Youth Services, a for-profit organization, operates the APYA and the state of Florida funds the Street Smart’s aftercare services.

Goal / Mission

The program’s goal is to provide specialized, remedial education and intensive vocational training to moderate risk youth committed to Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice.

Results / Accomplishments

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) conducted an experimental field trial to evaluate the APYA/SS program. They randomly assigned youth committed to Department of Juvenile Justice (from June 2002 to December 2003) to either the APYA/SS program or a control group. The study sample included 369 APYA-experimental and 345 control youth.

According to the NCCD evaluation, APYA youth had significantly higher rates of diploma awards both during secure care, 49.1% vs. 22.0% control, and over a two-year period following release, 57.2% vs. 36.5% control, (difference significant to .00). APYA youth were employed at significantly higher percentages at Years One, 72.4% vs. 64.4% control (difference significant to .02), Two, 81.0% vs. 76.5% control (difference significant to .14), and Three, 84.6% vs. 80.6% control (difference significant to .17), following their release. APYA youth also had higher employment earnings at Years One $3,204 vs. $2,453 control (difference significant to .02), and Two $6,639 vs. $5,757 control (difference significant to .20), following their release.

In addition, APYA youth had significantly lower rates of property arrests, 23.3% vs. 28.7% control (difference significant to .10), significantly fewer average number felony arrest, 0.58 vs. 0.69 control (difference significant to .11), and significantly fewer average number of property arrests, 0.34 vs. 0.43 control (difference significant to .12), at Year One following their release.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Pete Zeegers, Program Administrator
Avon Program Academy
242 South Park Boulevard

Avon Park, FL 33825
(863) 452-3815
Public Safety / Corrections
Education / Vocational & Adult Education
G4S Youth Services and Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Date of publication
Sep 2009
Date of implementation
For more details
Target Audience
Additional Audience

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