The Indianapolis Star featured the National Guard’s Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in an article, In-Your-Face Indiana Boot Camp Gets Teens Out of Trouble by Mike Fender. The Academy is located at the former Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home in Knightstown, which was founded in 1865.
According to the Academy website, the program “targets high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 18; is comprised of a structured, disciplined 5 1/2-month Residential Phase focusing on education and practical life skills followed by a 12-month Post-Residential Phase involving skilled and trained Mentors supporting Graduates engaged in positive, durable placement.” The program is free of charge and students are not required to enter military service upon completion of the program.
For children involved in the juvenile justice system, the eligibility requirements may disqualify many. The requirements include:
- “16, 17, or 18 years of age day 1 of residential phase
- A youth who is no longer attending any school and who has not received a secondary school diploma or a GED
- No pending felony charges or felony convictions [this has been interpreted to include felony juvenile allegations and adjudications]
- Resident of Indiana
- Mentally and physically capable to participate in the program
- Volunteer to attend program [children cannot be court-ordered to attend]
- Be free of illegal drugs (Candidates will be tested for drug use)
- Unemployed or underemployed
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship”