The VACCA Campus, previously known as “The Alabama Boys Industrial School, was founded in 1899 by Mrs. R. D. Johnston. After witnessing young delinquent boys working in prison mining camps, Mrs. Johnston set out to build an institution that was not only a reformatory school but a place where boys might be guided into a better way of life. The campus is located on 178 scenic acres in Birmingham in the Roebuck community.
The Department of Youth Services assumed control of the facility in 1975 at which time the institution provided special emphasis on education remediation for students. In 1991 the campus was designated as one of two facilities in the State for placement of serious juvenile offenders.
Currently, the Vacca Campus is a multifaceted, secure juvenile correctional institution serving male youth ages twelve to fifteen. The youth are adjudicated juvenile offenders who are court-committed to DYS. Services include an educational program, substance abuse education and treatment, medical and mental health services, individual and group counseling, physical education, and other basic services important to positive youth development. Each youth is assigned a case manager and works with that counselor toward addressing factors related to committing offenses, developing life skills, and earning release by completing an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) developed by a multidisciplinary team.
Substance abuse and chemical dependency treatment is provided by the educational component of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Substance Abuse Program or the more intensive Chemical Addiction Program (CAP). Additional group counseling includes topics ranging from social skills to release and aftercare preparations.
The students attend classes at McNeel School with emphasis on remediation of basic skills (math, reading, language arts, science and history). Special education students follow an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students are given the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and religious programs. Religious services are provided by volunteers, representative of each individual’s personal faith. The Epiphany Ministry is active on campus. Extracurricular activities include basketball, touch football, and other indoor and outdoor sports.
The programs and services offered by Vacca Campus are designed to provide the opportunity for juveniles to return to their communities and function as lawful and productive citizens. Continuing in the footsteps of the facility’s founder, the goal remains to guide the students into a better way of life.