The Southeast Newport News Center for Youth was developed in 1990 in an effort to provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary prevention and intervention services to the youth and families of Southeast Newport News. The concept of the Center was the result of a four year self-assessment and planning effort by a coalition of fifteen public and private human service agencies concerned that service delivery efforts lacked integration and responsiveness to the special needs of young people. The major focus of this planning was on replicating the Door, a nationally acclaimed multi-faceted treatment and education center for adolescents in New York City. Human service agencies located existing human resources as necessary to staff the Center and the only new monies needed were for the administration, facility acquisition and service enhancements. The Executive Director began employment in September 1990.
Year One activities focused on developing the governance system for the Center, developing the mission and goals statement, establishing a mechanism for development and review of long range and strategic plans, resource development, securing participating agency commitments, setting up administrative offices, developing the professional staff organization and evaluating potential facility locations. In furtherance of this goal, the City of Newport News, the Newport News School System and Center management agreed in concept to the Center, through a contractual arrangement, providing coordination and support to a city-wide youth-risk prevention initiative. This community driven, holistic approach was designed to bring together youth, families, businesses, volunteers and service providers to ensure timely access for residents to available services. It was noted that the two primary populations would be: high risk youth, ages 13 through 18, and their families; and high risk children, ages 6 through 12, and their families.
In the second year of operation, the Center received criticism from the community, who all felt that citizens from the Southeast community had been excluded from the planning process. As a result of these concerns, the Board and Management redirected their efforts, holding a retreat with the NAACP and concerned community leaders. The planning committee developed a revised organizational structure for the Center that was adopted by the retreat participants, retired by the Board of Directors and approved by the community at a town meeting attended by more than 200 residents. Attempts to locate a suitable family continued and in June of 1991 a Southeast community citizen group recommended a facility adjacent to Huntington Middle School. The site was renovated with the assistance of the Architectural Firm of Rankin, Wildman and Brezinski Pro Bana. Funds were also secured from Newport News CSBG to complete the renovation of the building which provides 13,000 square feet of modern problem space, specifically designed on the delivery of integrated multi-disciplinary services as well as a full size gym.