Nicholas Residential Treatment Center

Court Departments

Residential Services Director
William Shaffer

Administrative Assistant
Paula Rutherford

Nicholas is a multi-tiered residential treatment facility, licensed by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board, certified for up to 25 male and female at-risk youth. NRTC is currently working on the accreditation process to become a Quality Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) through the Council on Accreditation. The program is specifically designed to treat youth facing serious behavioral issues, mental health and substance abuse issues. The Nicholas Residential Treatment Center is a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) program operated under the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.

Mission, Vision, and Value Statement

The Mission and Vision of the Nicholas Residential Treatment Center is to assist at-risk youth in becoming productive, responsible citizens through providing diverse, comprehensive treatment and rehabilitative services to the youth and their family, and to reduce or eliminate the youth’s involvement in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems.

Nicholas Residential Treatment Center places value on taking an inclusive, engaging approach with youth, staff and the community; empowering youth to shape their futures, embracing employee diversity and encouraging involvement with policy formation and decision making, and ensuring regular communication and strategic participation with our stakeholders and community partners.


Nicholas serves male and female youth between the ages 11-17 with multi-dimensional needs such as a history of delinquent behaviors, mild to moderate mental health issues, abuse, neglect and special education needs, as well as youth who did not thrive in less-restrictive settings. Nicholas offers 3 unique programs that utilize a data-driven decision making framework for establishing the social culture and behavioral supports needed for an effective learning environment for all youth and staff.

  • Behavioral Intervention Program – Behavioral and treatment programming where risks and needs are addressed through the use of evidence-based cognitive behavioral practices in treatment planning and case management services.  Individual and family therapy, education, and vocation are strong components of the program, reestablished by integration back into the community and home.  Length of stay is based on a youth’s individual progress and behavioral compliance generally between 6-12 months.
  • Therapeutic Program – Eligible youth have received a mental health diagnosis that is able to be clinically managed through facility’s partnership with South Community Behavioral Health, Inc. Programming addresses mental health needs where youth receive a minimum of 5.5 hours of therapeutic individual and group treatment weekly. Treatment frequency will be increased, if necessary, and LOC changes will be addressed on a clinically-managed, case-by-case basis. Youth will participate in some components of the Behavioral Intervention Programming, as individually determined. Length of stay is based on a youth’s individual therapeutic progress.
  • Substance Abuse Program – Eligible youth have received a Substance Abuse Disorder diagnosis.  Clinically managed through the facility’s partnership with South Community Behavioral Health, Inc. Programming is short-term and intensive where youth shall receive a minimum of 20 hours of substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment weekly with primary focus on the Seven Challenges curriculum.

Program Components


Referrals are accepted through the Montgomery County Juvenile Court or the Montgomery County Children Services Division. All youth considered for admission to Nicholas undergo a pre-screen assessment to determine suitability for each program type. In addition to falling within the profile outlined above, students should be enrolled in high school, have an IQ above 70 (or can be accommodated by an IEP) and be physically capable of participating in the program.

Once a youth is accepted into care at Nicholas, we use an intake assessment process that includes emotional, cognitive and aptitude tests. Youth entering the traditional Nicholas Program will be given two research–validated assessment tools that are used to help guide development of the Individual Service Plan. The Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS) and the Independent Living Assessment are used along with the clinical assessment to inform the treatment planning for each student.

Each new youth will go through a highly structured orientation/assessment process that will assists the Clinical Treatment Team in developing the appropriate program objectives and skill development plan to meet the needs of each youth.


Research suggests that youth need to re-learn how to think through difficult situations using effective problem-solving skills supported by positive values.
Nicholas has implemented effective behavioral models including evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which targets criminogenic risk factors, and structured social learning where new skills and behaviors are modeled.

The Substance program provides a short term; trauma informed residential treatment care for youth ages 11-17 in need of intensive alcohol and drug treatment services in a staff secure setting. Services offered include daily partial hospitalization services, mental health groups and individual and family counseling sessions. We offer comprehensive diagnostic assessments, psychotropic medication management, and support recovery service.

Youth placed in our traditional Nicholas program classified as high-risk to reoffend receive weekly treatment interventions based on their projected length of stay. This is driven by each youth’s service plan, and in concert with our CBT approach. Nicholas offers a variety of education and skill-building groups for youth, which enable them to receive the appropriate dosage of cognitive-based intervention and skill-building opportunities designed to reduce risk factors and meet their needs. The curricula and skills used to deliver these services include:

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS):

We have a multitiered framework of supports that ensures that Nicholas utilized evidence based behavioral interventions that enhance positive behavior outcomes. This promotes a safe, predictable and consistent approach to behavior management by highlighting desired behaviors through positive reinforcements. At Nicholas, staff model desired behavior expectations, and use effective interventions to support our youth.

Our structure utilizes a multi-tiered system of supports that interconnect systems, practices and data that drives outcomes. This culture is based on an environment that fosters trust, individual responsibility, mutual respect, achievement and learning. It includes:

  • Expectations that are clearly outlined throughout the building and taught in a structured orientation process to all youth with a tiered level of supports available on an individualized basis. We utilize an incentive based program and reinforces desired behavior
  • Staff that positively model and provide productive, constructive and helpful skill-building training that will develop each youth’s skills using proven, cognitive-based techniques to process through high-risk thoughts.
  • Youth will positively develop their talents, assets and skills in decision-making. Positive behavior interventions promote pro-social youth development by building on these strengths instead of focusing on weaknesses.
  • Liberty School provides students with an opportunity to have a positive high school experience— learn in the classroom, participate on the playing field, and graduate with a diploma within a student environment that encourages and promotes success.

Specific Treatment Provided: Tier 1

  • Group Guided Feedback (GGF): At Nicholas youth learn to deal with peer conflict and are encouraged to stand up for themselves and others through the I-Choose PACTS matrix.  When you are not showing those skills staff and youth will bring it to their attention in a community circle that will address the behavior or issue in a positive way.  Problem sovling should focus on choosing the PACTS behaviors and using appropriate A.R.T. skills.  Staff will supervise and assist the group, as peers use specific helpful feedback.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): Staff at Nicholas are trained in the use of MI techniques to enhance intrinsic motivation for change within each youth.  These skills are effective in one-on-one situations with our staff and youth, especially when guiding the youth through the problem solving process and encouraging self-actualization.
  • Response Group: Response Groups allow residents of a living unit the opportunity to process issues, behaviors and actions within the living group that are counter to the positive organization culture. The Response group will teach and reinforce a skill.  Youth have an opportunity to discuss their behaviors, advancement, and community issues with youth specialist, managers and probation.
  • Skill Streaming Groups: Youth engage in positive skill-building development groups each week.  Through these meetings, staff facilitates learning and behavioral change by giving students interventions and strategies that address treatment needs. Each of these groups has a learning objective.  The Skill Streaming Groups are times where youth can practice specific skills and techniques to process treatment issues through role play. They are designed to help all youth get the correct dosage of cognitive-based treatment. During Skill Streaming, youth and staff can talk about problems, challenges and goals and identify a social skill that will help youth replace the old, undesired behavior, then practice by role-playing the skill in a group. Staff will help youth learn how use this new skill in real life situations.

Specific Treatment Provided: Tier 2

  • Aggression Replacement Training (ART): Growing research indicates the necessity of social emotional learning in the educational programming of students in order for them to achieve academic and behavioral success. The four curricular components of ART are empathy, anger management, social skills, and character education.
  • Moral Reasoning: To the extent that antisocial behavior reflects a delay of mature moral reasoning and egocentric bias, the aim of this program is to remediate that developmental delay.  In effect, antisocial youths need a concentrated dose of social perspective taking opportunities.  This group focus on a peer group discussion posing relevant socialmoral dilemmas or problems situations to stimulate perspective taking for  youth.
  • Carey Guides BITS: Youth work with their probation officer one-on-one on an established, pre-set lesson plan to address a specific criminogenic risk that are identified on their service plan as learning cognitive behavioral skill(s) including social skills, thinking skills, conflict resolution, problem-solving skills or moral enhancements.
  • PREP: Is a Personal Responsibility Educational Program that discusses the following topics with youth: healthy relationships; how to prevent unplanned pregnancy; STDs/HIV infections; how to plan for your future by reviewing career goals; and how to handle money.  This is a 20 hour curriculum delivered by certified trained staff by the Planned Parenthood through the Ohio Department of Youth Services.  The information youth received will coincide with the facilities Independent Living objectives.

Specific Treatment Provided: Tier 3

  • Tier 3 supports services are available and can be tailored specifically on the Individual Service Plan. Because youth are placed at Nicholas by the Court and Children Services, individuals may have different experiences along the way. We will work closely with these agencies to work in the best interest of the youth.


Education is a vital component for all youth and will be provided by the in-house established charter school, Nicholas Liberty. Each student will receive Ohio mandated instruction by fully accredited teachers in the core subject areas in a year round program. The opportunities also exist for elective credits on an individual student basis and end of year state testing. We strive to help students’ bridge educational gaps, pass to higher grade levels, earn credits, and more. When a youth is eligible for the transition phase of the program they will begin a reintroduction to their home school. Upon entering the transition phase of the program they will then attend their home school while maintaining support from Nicholas Liberty. Students will have access to books, magazines, and many other forms of media through a check out process at our on campus library. All literary forms are monitored to ensure age appropriate materials and all media will require a rating of PG-13 or under. We encourage students to use this resource for recreational purposes, as well as educational ones.

Probation and Case Management Services

  • Admission: Parents are involved at admission or even before. They are apprised by Nicholas Intake Probation Officers about what will be happening to their child and why. Parents receive information about the program detailing where their child is, why, what their day will be like, what is expected of them, what their rights are, what the visitation, mail and telephone policies. They are encouraged to ask questions.
  • Treatment Planning: As appropriate, the service plan is created in collaboration with the youth, placement agencies, treatment providers and parents. Nicholas will work with all parties to develop and aid each youth in an individual and holistic manner to address behavioral health needs.  Copies are sent to both placement agencies and/or parents for their signature. Service plans are reviewed every 30 days and updated as needed based on a youth’s progress or regress in the program.
  • Parent Communication: The Probation Officers and staff encourages parents to keep in contact with their children while they is at Nicholas. Contact can be letter writing, telephone calls or personal visits. Parents may call any time although they are asked to call in the evenings when the likelihood of their their being readily available is greater. Youth also are allowed to call their parents at least weekly.
  • Case Management: The Case Manager communicates with the youth and provide case management services. The Case Manager will develop the youth service plan and work with providers and the youth to address specific program goals. The Case Manager ensures all medical, visitation and specific youth needs are met.  Monthly progress reports will be sent out to referral agencies updating them on the youth’s progress.

Behavioral Management System

A positive organizational culture utilizes the powerful influence of reinforcers to assist youth in changing behaviors that detract from their ability to progress in their treatment plan. The norms of our positive organizational culture drive all positive reinforcers (i.e. progression in Levels, which allows a youth more frequent home passes, television time, movies, site visits, etc.), and negative reinforcers, (fines, privilege restrictions, essays, SCV status, etc.) As a youth progresses within the culture and gains “High Response” they are afforded more responsibilities and freedom of choice. Conversely, if a youth does not progress staff reevaluate the youth’s goals and determine more effective processes for the youth’s success. Variances from the culture norms are processed by the staff as they occur. Positive/Negative reinforcers are used to reward/reprove behaviors based on the behavior being exhibited. Youth who are observed changing or go above and beyond are re-enforced with greater positive incentive that are either tangible from our Incentive Store or privilege based from our program incentives.

Family Involvement

Family involvement and collaboration is important to these youth, and to the treatment process. Nicholas works to engage parents from the admission process, and continues to work with them through their child’s discharge. Families are assisted during family therapy sessions to work on the issues that were problematic prior to placement identified during their family assessment at orientation. Utilizing this structural-strategic approach to family, therapist work to places the parents back in the authoritative position in the family while at the same time providing the appropriate structure and boundaries required for when the youth is returned home.

Nicholas staff work with families through treatment planning, service reviews and two-way communication. Families are supported through family therapy, visitation and community transition. Additional referrals to aid in the stability and success of the family are made on an as needed basis.


Recreation and leisure time activities play an important role in the daily schedule. Nicholas youth learn how to use this time positively and productively through active participation in many different activities including sports, art, music, board games, etc. Nicholas partners with community providers such as HAALO and K12 to bring artistic and educational activities for youth to engage in. Many of these activities are provided on campus at Nicholas’s gymnasium, multipurpose rooms, library, or student lounge. Many of campus activities are scheduled for Friday evenings once you are on the appropriate level and response. We encourage activities that improve the way you interact with others, build your self-confidence and athletic skills.

Community Resource

Opportunities exist for youth to participate in employment and extracurricular activities during Transition Phase. Other extracurricular activities through Liberty School exist such as community projects, art, science fairs, writing & poetry competitions, field trips and more.

Community Service and Work Experience

The community has played a critical role in shaping a youth’s behavior. So too, must these community resources and assets be accessed to help re-shape a youth’s delinquent behavior into pro-social behavior. Community service and service learning activities are part of the Restorative Justice model adopted by Nicholas.  Using this approach, Nicholas strives to rebuild the youths’ relationships youth  with their community by connecting them to resources and providing community service opportunities.

In turn, we want youth to be viewed as a resource to their community and youth to develop a sense of social responsibility and competency. While Nicholas works with numerous worthwhile organizations, ongoing community service projects include:

  • On campus duties
  • Mural Projects
  • New Castle Cemetery


On-site medical staff and an on-site clinic support  the youth at Nicholas. The medical services include:

  • Pharmacological Management
  • Vision Screening
  • Flu Shots
  • Medical Referrals

Transition Plans

Like other services, the transition plan is driven by individual results of assessments and youth needs. The transition plan supports the youth’s service plan and outlines support services that youth will need as they integrate back into the community. Many plans include transition back to their home school, employment, team sport/club and continued counseling supports.