Going Private at the Hickey School

July 28, 1991

Come Sept. 1, Maryland begins its largest experiment in privatization. That is when Rebound, a Denver-based company, takes over operation of the Charles Hickey School on Cub Hill Road in Baltimore County, the state's only large-scale facility for disruptive, delinquent juveniles.

Officials have high hopes that a privately run treatment center can help deeply disturbed young people who have gotten into trouble. Despite recent improvements at the Hickey School, the state's past efforts failed miserably to make a difference. Fifty percent of the youths at the school are re-arrested later. Hickey remains a violent place, where assaults are frequent, training for guards is poor and little real help is given to youngsters.

Rebound already runs a successful national center for boys in Brush, Colo. At Hickey, it will stress education programs, with special attention for kids who often have failed miserably in school. There will be a wide range of vocational training available as well as activities geared to help a child's emotional and social development. Equally important, Rebound incorporates a three-year "after-care" program to give kids an assist in solving problems once they leave the Hickey School.

While the state will save money on this transfer ($6,000 per juvenile each year), this was not the prime reason for taking Hickey private. Rebound's recidivism rate is 30 percent, far lower than Hickey's 50 percent rate of kids who later get into legal trouble. The state is simply not set up to give these juveniles the specialized care they require.

Rebound's challenge is daunting. Hickey has become the dumping ground for Maryland's hard-core delinquents. Most have learning disabilities, several emotional problems and either drug or alcohol addictions. Facilities are inadequate and the number of youngsters could tax the company's staff. But the state should be congratulated for daring to invite Rebound into Maryland. Helping these troubled kids confront their problems could set them on the path of productive and happy lives.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.