The ceremonial cutting of a ribbon in Goleta may mark the beginning of the road to rehabilitation for local juvenile delinquents.

The Santa Barbara County Probation Dept. and the Villa Esperanza Counseling and Education Center opened a new modular group room Thursday off of Hollister Avenue. The dedication ceremony celebrated the opening of the new room, which is equipped with two new drug-testing bathrooms and will function as a private office for both individual counseling sessions and various group activities.

The ceremony attracted approximately 65 people, including Chief Probation Officer Sue Gionfriddo and Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa.

The Villa Esperanza Center is one of three juvenile rehabilitation centers operating within Santa Barbara County. The program allows juvenile offenders on probation and court wards an opportunity to remain at home rather than being placed in boys camps or in a group home.

Participants are able to live at home, while attending school and counseling programs during the day. The program, which has the capacity to aid 20 minors and families, focuses on the minor’s educational needs and encouraging socially acceptable behavior. The period of time that a minor participates within the program can vary depending on his or her behavior.
-Nexus Staff Report