For the past 40 years, the Lee County Youth Development Center (LCYDC) has been quietly meeting the needs of vulnerable and at-risk populations here in Lee County and beyond. Their mission statement reads “A Place for Change…working together, offering rays of hope for children and families…strengthening our community,” and they have been working hard to uphold that mission from the beginning.

LCYDC was founded in response to a local concern raised in the 1960’s. The late Mrs. Jane Walker and the late Mrs. Cecil Moreman found it unconscionable that children were being housed in the local jail when their parents ran afoul of the law. These tireless children’s advocates founded the Lee County Council of Neglected & Dependent Children to raise awareness and funding.

Through this council, they were able to attract a membership of over 2,000 local citizens who wanted to establish a home where at-risk children could be safely housed and cared for while their home situation stabilized. Mrs. & Mrs. George King donated fifteen acres of land in the heart of Opelika and a structure was purchased from Housing & Urban Development and placed on the donated land.

In 1972 Lee County voters took to the polls and passed a property tax, which insured the sustainability of the group home; the Lee County Youth Development Center was formally incorporated in 1973 with a 16-member Board of Directors.

Major changes over the past four decades has included growing and diversifying from a single-focused group home into an agency capable of providing services over a spectrum of needs from mentoring services to juvenile detention care. “Many might think of the Youth Development Center as only a juvenile detention center where wayward youth are “locked up”. While we are proud of our Richard D. Lane Regional Detention Center and pleased that we can meet the needs of those youth requiring secure placement, this is only a small part of what LCYDC does” according to Executive Director, Laura Cooper.

LCYDC currently has seven residential care centers ranging from foster home care and apartment living to moderate and intensive residential treatment care centers. They also work intensely in the community and in the homes of their clients providing adult mentors, healthy decision-making workshops in local schools and with divorcing parents as well as providing therapy, coaching and modeling in troubled homes in Lee and seven additional counties. On their main campus, they operate a Psychological Services Center, which provides clinical care and crisis support around-the-clock as well as a comprehensive state-of-the-art Academic Learning Center offering year-round school.

It is their commitment to the local community that has led LCYDC to receive recent recognitions such as the United Way of Lee County’s “Committed Community Partner” award and the Chick-fil-A Tiger Town’s “Community & Character Counts” award. LCYDC is accredited through The Council On Accreditation headquarter in New York, which has been recently renewed through 2016.

LCYDC also receives support from both the cities of Opelika and Auburn, and have formal partnerships with Opelika City Schools, Auburn City Schools, and Auburn University. These partnerships and many others allow the agency to continue to evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of their clients and the community.

More information about the Lee County Youth Development Center and the services that they offer can be found at www.lcydc.org.

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