About The William George Agency for Children’s Services

Mission

We are committed to providing a safe and caring residential environment supported by proven, therapeutic, clinical and medical care for at-risk youth.

Vision

Recognized as among the best in offering innovative, highly regarded programs to serve high need, specialized populations who have historically been underserved.

Values

To care first about young people while helping them develop the attitudes, social skills, and self-direction enabling them to become contributing members of the community. To engage, respect, empower, and partner with families to support their efforts in successful reunification and family preservation.

 

William George, founder of the George Junior Republic, was born on a farm in West Dryden, New York. When he was fourteen, he and his parents moved to New York City. As he grew older his parents wanted him to attend college, but he rebelled and went into business for himself.

In the late 1800’s, NYC conditions were cramped and unhealthy. Mr. George became concerned with the social conditions of the great city. He walked the slums of New York and talked with the boys in the streets. He organized the boys into club and mission houses, and also organized clubs for girls. Mr. George believed that if young people could live in a free, wholesome atmosphere, they could use their energies constructively and become adults with positive futures.

Mr. George was compelled to bring boys out to his farm in Dryden when he read an article in the April, 1890 issue of Evening World. This article told of a little boy in the New York slums who saw an orange peel and chased it down the street thinking it was a flower. Mr. George wanted this boy and others to see real flowers and real living things.  

GJR-BOYSThe New York Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund provided funds for the transportation of fifty children (40 boys and 10 girls) to have a summer vacation with Mr. George. He had no money but nearby farmers provided a place to live and food for the youths. For two weeks the youths lived in a camp of tents in Freeville, New York. Mr. George continued the camping program for three consecutive summers with more and more campers, support from people in Cortland and Elmira, and growing problems.

By the end of the third summer, Mr. George was very disturbed to see the young people taking food, clothing and luxuries, but never a thought of giving back. They were taking everything they received for granted, and he needed a solution. He decided they needed to learn how to earn their own living, and he developed the motto “Nothing Without Labor”. This was the first motto developed for the Republic and it is still in use today. The first name given to the G.J.R. was the Freeville Fresh Air Camp.

The summer of 1894 was radically different. No money was used for sports; instead it was used for picks and shovels. Mr. George told the citizens to build a road in front of the Fresh Air Camp. He said they would learn responsibility and feel proud. The youths were happy and energetic at work, but only for a few days. Then, a shipment of clothing came in and instead of giving the clothing out, Mr. George suggested they work for it. Finally, one small boy worked for his clothing and soon others followed suit. A change was noted. The young people took far better care of the clothing they earned compared to those they received for nothing. Mr. George was proud.

Mr. George wrote up rules for his community to follow, but they were not followed. Then one day some of the hard-earned clothing was stolen. The owners of the clothing went to Mr. George and he told them to take matters into their own hands. The youths found the thieves and among themselves conducted a trial. This idea has evolved through the years to the idea of citizen “self-government”; today residents are represented by our Campus Council as part of our Youth Leadership Program.

Jacob-SmithOn July 10, 1895, the founding date of the G.J.R., five boys out of two hundred campers decided to stay through the winter. This was the beginning of what we have today: a therapeutic community of youths, growing and maturing together responsibly.

The George Junior Republic continued to evolve over many years. There were good times and bad. The one constant was providing opportunities for youth to return to their home communities as contributing members.

In 2005 the George Junior Republic changed its name to The William George Agency for Children’s Services. The new name, it is felt, gives society at large a greater understanding of the work we do.

Today’s residential programs preserve the Junior Republic’s ideals of general fitness, social development and well-roundedness, in which responsibility is treated more as an opportunity than a burden – while providing more focused clinical oversight and treatment, and a strong educational emphasis.

Although the agency has seen many programmatic changes over the years as the needs of children have evolved, one thing has never changed, namely the enduring efforts of caring adults working to improve the lives of disadvantaged, troubled youth. Expansion in the service of providing additional treatment opportunities to children in need has been an agency priority since the early 1990’s. The agency Board of Directors in concert with our senior leadership team have for the last 20 years made a concerted effort to serve high risk, high need populations who have historically been underserved in New York State. This expansion has taken the form of nine newly constructed, state of the art, residential homes, and many new and innovative programs.

In 1996 when Barber Cottage opened, the William George Agency became the first private residential treatment center in New York State to be licensed to provide sex offender specific treatment to adolescent males who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior. We currently have 20 such beds and are recognized as a leader in the field of adolescent S.O. treatment.

In July 2000, The William George Agency became one of only three private residential agencies in the state to open an OASAS licensed outpatient chemical dependency treatment clinic serving the needs of our residential population. It has been long recognized that the rate of diagnosable alcohol and/or substance abuse among adolescents entering residential treatment is at least 60%, and for many youngsters, it represents a primary treatment issue. Our OASAS clinic currently serves up to 100 residents at any given time, and has consistently received superior performance reviews during OASAS program audits.

Girls-PrisonThe fall of 2005 marked the opening of our DD program for youngsters with both intellectual disabilities and serious emotional, psychiatric disturbance. Previously, many of these youngsters were mixed in with youngsters with normal cognitive functioning, and were often exploited or isolated. Our DD program offers many specialized services and supports designed to improve their adaptive daily living skills, as well as their capacity to function independently. We currently have 27 beds in this program.

In November, 2011, we opened the Seidell Substance Abuse Program for adolescent males who are dually diagnosed with alcohol and/or substance dependence and a co-occurring mental health disorder. Most of the young men served in this program have a history of failed inpatient treatment experiences in OASAS licensed short-term residential programs as a result of their pattern of acting out behavior. The structure of our residential program is designed to offer these young men a safe, stable, and predictable living environment which will support and encourage their investment in treatment while our OASAS licensed clinic provides intensive chemical dependency services. Since the program’s inception on November 1, 2011 through the present date, the utilization rate for this program has been 94%. In the spring of 2014, we added six beds to our dedicated chemical dependency program at Ed George Cottage. Ed George currently houses girls.

Finally, in December, 2011, we opened our Hard to Place Girl’s program at Lodge Cottage. The agency had not served adolescent females in almost twenty years. But in response to overwhelming and persistent consumer demand, the agency made the decision to serve girls with a history of trauma and abuse. The program has been highly utilized and continues to be in great demand, expanding two fold over the last four years from 12 beds to our current 24 beds.

In the winter of 2014, we developed a nine bed Hard to Place Intermediate Care program for boys who clinically no longer require an HTP level of care but whose social skill deficits and emotional dysregulation impede their ability to successfully negotiate a more normalized peer environment present in our Regular Institutional program. As such, it represents a transitional program between Hard to Place and discharge to the community.

In point of fact, during the twenty year period between 1993 and 2015, the agency has grown fourfold from approximately 45 beds to our present licensed capacity of 189 beds as part of our on-going commitment to serve at-risk youth in New York State.

Ron Trumino
Interim Executive Director
Ron began at the Agency, then known as The George Junior Republic, in 1994, and has over 45 years of experience in child welfare, dedicating his career to ensuring the highest quality service for children and families. He is responsible for the overall leadership and administration of the largest, single-campus residential treatment environments in New York State, offering services to youth and families from over 55 counties statewide. Ron has a Master’s in Social Work from Marywood University.
Sonia Apker
George Junior Republic UFSD
Superintendent
Sonia Apker has dedicated her career to the George Junior Republic Union Free School District, having worked as a special education teacher, curriculum coordinator, and principal before being named Superintendent in 2013. Sonia came to the District as a special education teacher in 1992. She has Master’s in Literacy and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Administration from SUNY Cortland. She has been integrally involved in the District’s growth, development and educational innovations over the past twenty-six years. Sonia also serves as officer of the Special Act Coalition.
Danielle Chase
Director of Operations, Compliance Officer
Danielle started at the Agency in 2008 as a Cottage Director in our Institutional Program and transitioned to our Youth Recovery Program in 2012 after completion of her Master in Social Work degree from Binghamton University. Prior to her current role, Danielle was the Program Director for the Agency’s outpatient Substance Treatment & Recovery Program licensed by the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Danielle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor. She is currently a fellow in the Executive Leadership Program at the Silberman School of Social Work of Hunter College. Ms. Chase is responsible for the successful leadership and management of the Agency’s non-residential operations and Compliance Program.
David Dankert
Director of Residential Services
Dave began his career at The William George Agency in the Fall of 1993 after graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Juvenile Justice. Dave worked as a Residential Counselor for approximately two years before becoming a Cottage Manager and then a Cottage Director for nine years. During that he time he attended Marywood University to receive his Master’s Degree in Social Work in 2001. Dave has served the Agency over the last fifteen years as the Director of Institutional Services and most recently as the Director of Residential Services.
John Weaver
Director of Quality Assurance & Program Improvement
John has dedicated his 40-year career to helping children and families through emergencies and traumatic events. During this time John has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and has received extensive training in social and clinical services for underserved and at-risk populations. Prior to coming to the Agency, John has worked at the U.S. Marshall Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and several privately operated high-security prisons and detention centers. John was involved in recovering and building the Hope Ranch in Montana and the South Texas Family Residential Center for the Department of Homeland Security. John is an expert in realigning organizational culture and in building strong, cohesive teams following periods of significant, and sometimes traumatic, organizational change. He has taught at the collegiate level and at multiple federal agencies.
Justin Herbel
Outpatient Chemical Dependency Program
Program Director
Justin has his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ft. Hays State University and has earned his Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor designation through the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Dependency Program. Justin began his career as an intensive probation officer allowing him to develop and facilitate a first of its kind methamphetamine specific treatment program where client revocation rates were four times lower than the statewide average. While in the department, Justin became a parole officer, senior supervising officer, and eventually, the treatment coordinator for a sixteen county area. Justin began as a chemical dependency counselor at The William George Agency in 2007. In 2011, Justin helped to develop the Youth Centered Recovery Program. The program utilizes an integrative approach to treatment that incorporates mental health, family, and substance treatment in an attempt to address the whole needs of client.
Ray Ackerman
Therapeutic After-school Program
Program Director
Ray has over 30 years of experience working with at risk children and families, as well as, 13 years with the William George Agency. Ray is responsible for the administrative and clinical over site of the Therapeutic After-School Program which is a preventive service program that provides clinical support to children and families that reside in Tompkins County with the primary goal of keeping families intact, while assisting them to better manage presenting needs.
 

 

Under Construction…

Chapel-1Christ Chapel

The chapel was designed by Auburn, NY native Julius Schweinfurth and built in 1900. It was renovated in 1995 and is used by local congregations and the community at large for worship, special events and weddings.

If you’d like to use the Christ Chapel for your next event please contact:
CJ Brown
(607) 844-6202 
brownc@gjrmail.com

 

 


#47_Executive_Director_House1-WRGhouse

William R. George House

Space available in our historic, period decorated house for small meetings and gatherings (about 20 people). 

If you’d like to use the William George House for your next event please contact:
CJ Brown
(607) 844-6202 
brownc@gjrmail.com

 


climbing-ropesJames Purcell Adventure Based Counseling Ropes Course

The Ropes Course is a series of activities and challenges on both low and high elements designed to encourage teamwork and personal confidence.  Groups learn skills such as cooperation, problem solving, leadership, goal setting and trust while trained instructors facilitate the activities.  

If you’d like to hear about the different programming packages we offer please contact:  
Laurene Payton 
(607) 844-6370
paytonl@gjrmail.com

 

 

 

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Office of Children and Family Services
http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/
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Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
https://www.oasas.ny.gov
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New York State Education Department
http://www.nysed.gov/