WOW is an intervention-based program that provides services to a specialized population of adolescent females, generally ages 13-18, who have been committed to the Department of Youth Services and meet specific admission criteria.

WOW utilizes gender specific, outcome driven interventions designed for adolescent females with a history of delinquent behavior and mental health related issues. The WOW program aims to set a standard of treatment and model programming for delinquent girls; and this program has incredible potential to positively impact the lives of young women.

WOW is designed to serve youth who are currently stable but have a history of psychiatric hospitalization and/or treatment including areas such as suicidal ideation or attempts, self-injurious or self-harm behaviors, homicidal behaviors or ideation, neglect or abuse, depression, familial discord, substance abuse, risk taking, school or academic problems, substance abuse, and anger.

As students work through the program, they build coping skills and become more aware and in control of their emotions and behaviors. Treatment regime is individualized and based on the Wheel of Wellness model, which addresses wellness, spirituality, work and leisure, love and belonging, friendship, and relationships.

Services include, but are not limited to the following: assessment, ISP/IEP development, psychiatric services, medical services, individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, family visitation, basic living skills training, physical education, vocational preparation and assistance with community transition.

WOW’s History

In 2006, the Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS), under the leadership of Mr. J. Walter Wood, Jr., identified a need to enhance the quality and effectiveness of treatment programming for female juvenile offenders in Alabama. In response to this need, Dr. Raymond O. Sumrall, Director of the Youth Services Institute (YSI) and Associate Professor in the University of Alabama (UA) School of Social Work during this period, initiated collaborations with various colleges at the University of Alabama. The departments were chosen based on the needs of the proposed population and the clinical expertise of the selected partners. In November 2007, DYS, YSI, and UA partners met to brainstorm ideas regarding the types of holistic services needed for this population. The multidisciplinary collaboration efforts led to the development of a holistic treatment program for female offenders, entitled the Working on Womanhood (WOW) program located in the Girls Intensive Education and Treatment Facility.

WOW Visitation

Visitation Days, Hours and Frequency

Visitation for program participants is held twice a month. Families may visit on the first Saturday and the third Sunday of each month. Youth are eligible for visitation after 14 days in the WOW program.

Visitation is divided into two sessions:

  • 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Visitors may visit during the morning session, afternoon session, or both sessions. Visitors must leave at 11:30 a.m. while lunch is served and may return at 1:30 p.m. for afternoon visitation. Visitors are not permitted to eat with the students.

A student’s attorney, probation officer, social worker, or other specified authoritative bodies may visit any time during regular business hours, which are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. However, 24 hour prior notification to WOW program administrative personnel is requested.

Who can visit?

Only immediate family members will be allowed to visit. Immediate family consists of:

  • Parents and stepparents
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Husband (must be verified with a marriage license)
  • Legal guardians

No cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or boyfriends are permitted to visit with the exception of those designated as legal guardians. Only four visitors will be allowed to visit with the student during the scheduled visitation time.

Visitation Rules

All visitors who come to the facility must be on a visitation list and will be required to present valid picture identification. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State ID’s
  • Employment ID’s
  • Military ID cards
  • Passports

Visitors must sign a visitor’s roster at the designated checkpoint. Visitors younger than 19 must be approved by the WOW Treatment Team prior to visitation day.

Special visits (i.e., family emergencies or for a student who is hospitalized) may be arranged for a student by contacting the student’s Therapist to set a date, time, and a purpose for the visit. Family counseling sessions may also be scheduled outside of the regular visitation schedule. Such sessions will be arranged by the student’s individual Therapist.

Visitors CANNOT bring food, alcoholic beverages, drugs, tobacco products (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, and all variations of smokeless tobacco), cameras, purses, backpacks, cell phones, or weapons of any type on the facility campus. Smoking is not allowed at any time. Please refrain from wearing revealing and tight fitting clothing. Also, do not wear clothing bearing gang related or offensive slogans. All visitors will be searched upon entry into the facility and may be searched again if contraband is found in the facility during visitation.

Visitors’ identification and keys must be presented to the designated staff upon entry into the facility and all other personal belongings should be secured in the vehicle. The WOW program is not responsible for any items that are lost or stolen during visitation. If visitors violate any WOW program rules they may be asked to leave the facility and future visits may be temporarily suspended.

WOW PREA Reporting

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a national law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2003. PREA establishes national standards for the detection, prevention, and response to sexual misconduct in federal, state, and local correctional confinement facilities. The act mandates correctional agencies and programs to establish a zero tolerance policy, increase accountability of administrators, and implement methods to ensure compliance with PREA standards. For additional information regarding PREA, visit their website.

The WOW program is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for youth and staff, and continuously implements practices and procedures to ensure safety. The program complies with the Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS) zero tolerance PREA policy and has established program procedures and administrative guidelines to adhere to the policy. All PREA allegations are reviewed and investigated expeditiously, and appropriate steps are taken to protect youth. Additionally, findings are utilized to further enhance programmatic response. Applying the definitions established by the Department of Justice (DOJ), in 2019 one allegation of youth/youth sexual contact was received and investigated. The alleged incident involved a youth touching another youth’s buttocks through the clothing. Upon investigation, this allegation could not be substantiated and interactions between the two youth were continuously monitored. The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) has jurisdiction to investigate criminal complaints at the WOW Program, including sexual assault. It is the policy and procedure of the WOW Program that, upon a reasonable suspicion that a PREA-related crime has been committed, WOW will immediately contact TCSO, will cooperate fully in the investigation, and will follow all TCSO directives. For further PREA-related data and/or information, email the Youth Services Institute office at

In compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) PREA mandates, program audits were conducted in 2014, 2017, and 2020 by a DOJ certified PREA auditor to assess WOW’s adherence to PREA standards. The program was found compliant for all three years, and exceeded expectations on seven PREA standards. WOW will continue to implement practices to comply with PREA guidelines and work diligently to continue exceeding standards. See the 2014 PREA Audit Report2017 PREA Audit Report, and 2020 PREA Audit Report.

Anyone can report a suspected PREA-related incident that may have occurred at the WOW program. To report a PREA incident, use the third party reporting form, or contact the DYS Hotline at 1-855-332-1594.

Evergreen School for WOW Participants

The Evergreen School provides educational program instruction to help youth meet the requirements for high school graduation or GED.

Each youth’s educational experience is tailored to meet his or her specific needs. Program instruction is provided by highly qualified teachers and course objectives are taken from the Alabama Course of Study. Classroom teachers and staff are available to assist youth with lessons, activities, labs, etc.

If a youth is working towards completing a High School Diploma, they will be taking courses on ACCESS. Program highlights include:

  • Work from a textbook may be given if needed, and all assignments will correlate with the ACCESS course work.
  • The number of ACCESS courses taken will be determined by the WOW Education Coordinator.
  • The number of ACCESS courses completed with a passing grade will determine how many credits are earned.
  • Physical Education (PE) is part of the Evergreen School academic calendar and is required daily. Passing grades for PE may count towards a standard credit or an elective credit. All final credits will be determined by the WOW Education Coordinator.

The Evergreen School offers a GED program through Shelton State Community College. In order to obtain a GED, youth must be at least 17 years old and withdrawn from school. If a youth is court ordered by the juvenile court judge to obtain their GED, the program will abide by the court ruling. GED Program highlights:

  • Youth work with a GED Coach from Shelton State to complete an evaluation to determine the appropriate grade level and monitor progress.
  • Practice modules based on grade level are provided on computer.
  • A minimum of 30 clock hours must be accumulated on the modules before the GED coach will test.
  • Youth are required to complete essays and practice tests.
  • A representative from Shelton State will come to the Evergreen School to administer the test.
  • The Evergreen School has GED Practice Books available in the classroom for youth to work from if additional practice is needed.

Be a WOW Mentor

Volunteers have a unique opportunity to be a mentor, a listening ear, and open youths’ eyes to the things they can achieve. The WOW program seeks to surround our youth with people who can help them grow and succeed. Volunteer applications are accepted for the following areas:

  • Educational tutor
  • Individual youth sponsor
  • Group sponsor
  • Program activities sponsor
  • Chaplain/religious service providers

Apply to volunteer at WOW.

Submit completed application to:

Working on Womanhood Program
Volunteer Coordinator
The University of Alabama
Box 870317
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0317

Questions? Please call (205) 343-2880.


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