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California YRTC Project


2012 Year In-review:  IHS maintains the momentum towards establishing the two California YRTCs. 

Accomplishments include submitting the purchase-request for the northern YRTC site, and entering the design phase for the southern YRTC.

December 2012:  IHS continues to reach significant milestones in the evolution of the California YRTCs, and is even closer to establishing the two California YRTCs, the first ever in the State:   

  • Acquiring the northern YRTC site:  in September 2011, the D-Q University Trustees volunteered to transfer to the Federal government 12 acres in Yolo County, specifically for IHS to establish the northern California YRTC.  During the first half of 2012, the California YRTC Team performed and completed extensive due-diligence, which has prepared IHS to acquire the northern YRTC site.  In September, the California Area Office formally requested that IHS Headquarters approve acquisition of the 12-acre site in Yolo County.  IHS Headquarters is reviewing the request. 
  • Designing the southern YRTC:  in October 2011, IHS purchased the site of the southern California YRTC in Riverside County.  In September 2012, IHS hired an architectural contractor to design the southern California YRTC.  IHS Headquarters, the California YRTC Team, and the architectural firm are now collaborating to create the first of two model YRTC facilities.  California’s Tribal governments will have opportunities to provide their input during the design process.  IHS will have construction-ready plans for the southern YRTC in December 2013. 
  • Developing the YRTC treatment model:  the California YRTC Team and the Area Office’s behavioral health consultant have created the foundation for the California YRTCs’ treatment model.  The treatment model is based on two core principles:  1) patients will benefit from a comprehensive and integrated treatment program, and 2) biological, psychological, and social factors are the causes and the effects of substance abuse.  Therefore, each YRTC will integrate behavioral healthcare, traditional healing, spiritual values, cultural identification, academic education, and vocational training.  Throughout 2013, the California YRTC Team will continue to develop the treatment model by identifying best-practices at other IHS and Tribal YRTCs, reviewing the latest studies on effective adolescent substance abuse treatment, and creating a staffing plan for the California YRTCs.

IHS California Area Office is planning to build California’s first IHS-operated Youth Regional Treatment Centers (YRTC): IHS is the in process of establishing two new YRTCs in California; one in the North and one in the South. The YRTCs will provide culturally appropriate chemical dependency treatment services to American Indian/Alaska Native youth. Ultimately, these facilities will support the IHS mission, in partnership with Indian Tribes, to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of the American Indian/Alaska Native population to the highest level.

Nationwide, IHS operates 5 YRTCs and the Tribes operate 6. The YRTCs share one mission – to provide quality holistic behavioral health care for American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents and their families in a substance free residential environment that integrates traditional healing, spiritual values, and cultural identification.

Health Care Facilities, Not Detention Centers: YRTCs are voluntary chemical dependency treatment centers. They only admit youth whose parents or guardians consent to their treatment, and they screen out youth who are likely to be dangerous. YRTCs do not admit youth who have been charged with or convicted of violent crimes. Clients of the YRTCs follow a strict daily schedule, are monitored 24-hours per day/7 days per week, and are not allowed to leave the facilities unescorted

The new YRTCs will expand and complement existing IHS-funded,Tribally managed behavioral health services in California. The YRTCs will provide comprehensive and holistic care, including:

  • Mental health assessments, health care services, and individualized treatment plans
  • Structured chemical dependency programs (e.g., 12-step programs)
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Academic education and vocational training
  • Activities to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of Native American Youth
  • 32 beds (16 male; 16 female) plus 6 beds for close observation
  • Five suites for families to participate in the treatment program 

Treatment Integration:  Chemical Dependency, Mental Health Care, Family Therapy, and Traditional Healing. The California YRTCs will use innovative models to heal Indian youth who suffer from chemical dependency. Holistic care is the philosophy and foundation upon which the YRTCs will offer individualized, culturally appropriate treatment. A team of mental health care professionals, medical providers, and traditional healers will work in concert to treat the whole person. They will integrate several effective treatment-models, recognizing that effective treatment must address the client’s mental health, home environment, and family relationships. The YRTCs will offer concurrent, onsite family therapy, and, after youth return home, the YRTCs will coordinate aftercare with local behavioral health programs.

Addressing a Significant Need in California:  IHS’s new YRTCs could treat approximately 100 American Indian/Alaska Native youth per year. Currently, most of California’s American Indian/Alaska Native youth who receive residential chemical dependency treatment are sent to non-IHS and non-Tribal out-of-state facilities. Often, out-of-state programs do not address the unique cultural needs of American Indian/Alaska Native youth, and cannot offer effective family therapy. These facilities do not have the capacity to meet the need in California, and often American Indian/Alaska Native youth and their families experience long delays before they receive care. Some receive no residential treatment at all. The new YRTCs in California will be an important step to helping thousands of American Indian/Alaska Native youth in California who need residential care.

Our Mission: in partnership with Indian Tribes, to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of the American Indian/Alaska Native population to the highest level. Our mission includes helping American Indian/Alaska Native youth find healthy directions in life. Our goal in establishing the two YRTCs is to help Tribes, youth, families, and communities heal from the suffering caused by chemical dependency. IHS will continue work with the Tribes and local communities to establish California’s first Youth Regional Treatment Centers.

This web page will provide up-to-date information about the California YRTC Project. Please check back often.

Indian Health Service
California Area Office
650 Capitol Mall, Suite 7-100
Sacramento, CA 9581
California YRTC Project
(916) 930 – 3927

Gary Ball, YRTC Planner and Staff Architect:
gary.ball@ihs.gov (916) 930-3981, Ext. 342

California YRTC Project general email:

Section 704 of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (as amended, 1992) authorized IHS to construct and operate two YRTCs in California. In addition, IHS has received Congressional approval to spend $2.7 million of unobligated funds to purchase the sites on which to build the two 32-bed YRTCs. In 2010, the Area Office made significant progress in acquiring the properties. The YRTCs could be operational as soon as FY2014, pending property-acquisition and appropriations to design and construct the facilities

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