How do I know when it’s time to consider out home placement options for my child? +
Although plenty of program websites offer parents criteria to determine a child’s fit for their services, many of those websites ignore important past context. A child’s current diagnoses and needs are certainly a huge piece of the puzzle; however equally important is the need to consider what you have already done to offer help to your child.
You should not consider an out-of-home placement for your child until you are certain that you have exhausted all local resources. The families that we work with have typically worked with several mental health professionals including psychiatrists, therapists, psychologist, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, social workers, school officials, and a host of other professionals. In spite of these families' efforts, their children continue to spiral downward, engaging in behaviors that will likely impair their ability to lead fruitful/productive lives as adults (e.g., a Straight-A Student who decides, over time, to stop going to school) or making decisions that put themselves at immediate risk.
Some families may have been considering out-of-home placement for some time, others may look into out-of-home placement quickly after some precipitating event that makes it clear that their child is headed down the wrong path or not getting their needs met locally. Typically you will collaborate with your home treatment provider to make the decision that your child is in need of out-of-home placement.
Be very careful on the internet – the decision of when it is time to look for an out of home placement is very personal; it should be considered when your local treatment team has exhausted all plans and options. A common mistake that parents make is to start searching on the internet when they are in crisis, very emotional and at risk of making unwise decisions.
What are some signs of an “at-risk” or “struggling” child? +
Each at-risk child is different and can have their own unique set of issues, diagnosis and behaviors. In general, some telling signs that a child is struggling can include:
-Hostility and confrontations
-Oppositional defiant behaviors
-ADD and ADHD
-Drug and/or alcohol addiction
-Trouble with the law
-Psychiatric and personality disorders
-Manipulative or deceitful behavior
-Suicide attempts or gestures
-Lack of self-esteem
-Lack of motivation
-Underachievement at school
-Young adult “failure to thrive”
-Aspergers / Nonverbal Learning Disorder Diagnosis
-Adoption / identity issues
Can’t I just find programs by doing my own online research? +
Over the years, we have worked with parents who are lawyers, judges, psychologists, psychiatrists, and college professors – in short, expert researchers. Even people with these skills can be surprised to hear the true reputations and histories of some of the programs which they have been researching. Also, some of the best programs either don’t have websites or are extremely hard to find because they are constantly full due to word-of-mouth referrals.
In reality, out-of-home treatment is a multi-billion dollar industry and programs are doing all kinds of things (some impeccably ethical and others unethical) to generate business. It’s a cliché, to be sure, but it is very relevant in this case: "there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Anyone you find on the internet has an agenda that is influencing the advice that they are giving you. It makes intuitive sense doesn’t it? The programs who market extensively on the internet are doing so because they need to drive business to themselves. If you are talking to a specific program’s admissions director, you are talking to a salesperson for that program. While they might be an impeccably ethical and compassionate person, their first loyalty is to their program.
That’s precisely why we work directly for families. We have no confusion as to our objective: to help families make well-informed, wise decisions. Much like going into a court room without a lawyer or buying a house without a real estate agent, you are “shopping” in an industry that is very complex and difficult to understand without experienced, well-trained, wise counsel.
Finally, one of the most important things to consider is that your child's specific fit into a type of program is hugely important. We will assess your child's needs, teach you about the different levels of care in the industry, help you make an informed decision and help you pick the best therapist for your child at the program you choose, which can make all the difference in the world.
Will I save money by finding a school or program by myself? +
Sometimes. However it can be even more of a financial strain if you make an inappropriate placement, not to mention the emotional and therapeutic setbacks this can create for your child. We feel strongly that allowing us to help you find the best match for your child increases their chances for a successful placement dramatically.
We realize that you may have already invested a lot of money and energy on therapists, legal counsel, psychiatrists, and/or outpatient programs. As your guides, we can save you money by helping you avoid common and costly mistakes as you go forward. You want the best for your child, but the cost will be great on many levels if you cut corners or choose the wrong program. Additionally, now more than ever, we find ourselves able to advocate financially for families, often helping to negotiate lower tuition discounts and fees. Placement for your child is an investment in your child and your family. We are committed to helping you make the most of that investment.
Will you come visit me and my family? +
Yes, we regularly travel to meet with families with whom we work.
How quickly can you get my child into a program? +
Our typical process takes 1 – 2 weeks. However, if needed, we can help you enroll your child in a therapeutic program as quickly as 24 hours.
How will you gather information about my child? +
Upon hiring us, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire with background information on your child and your family, as well as provide all relevant testing, evaluations, and academic paperwork. You will also be asked to fill out and sign a release of information that includes all previous treatment providers, school officials, and others knowledgeable about your child and their needs.
As we begin the process, we will formulate hypotheses about your child’s needs and how they might be addressed in various treatment programs based on your child's history and your wants and needs. Those hypotheses will be adjusted as we speak with each of the professionals that are a part of your child's home treatment team. Many families have made the decision to seek out-of-home placement, but don’t know exactly what their child needs. That’s okay. Our role is to help you figure that out. It is impossible to find the best fit for a child unless you have an accurate assessment of their needs. So, our first goal is to get a good understanding of what your child’s psychological, psychiatric, drug/alcohol, and educational needs are. Next, we’ll teach you about the landscape of options and different levels of care so that we can partner with you to help you make the best choice for your family.
Do I need to visit the programs being considered for my child? +
We HIGHLY recommend that you visit at least two schools before making a final decision and AT LEAST your presumed top choice. We are regularly surprised to talk with families who send their kids to programs “sight unseen” – based on talking with an admissions director and reference families. Making decisions based on this type of input creates a scenario Social Psychologists call “salience bias” – and can be a costly mistake for families searching for out-of-home placements. In making decisions in this way, parents are likely to put too much weight on their discussion with a reference family because they can describe a situation similar to their own (which naturally instills hope) and a positive outcome (which parents want very badly!).
It's important for you to keep in mind that virtually ANY program can offer you reference families and, of course, they are NOT going to give you a list of families that had bad experiences at their program.
How do I get my child to go the program that I decide upon? +
If your child is going to treatment willingly, you will coordinate with the treatment program you choose about an enrollment date and time and who will be bringing your child to treatment. If your child is not willing to seek treatment, there are several options, depending on your circumstances. Feel free to contact us if this is a sticking point and we will talk with you about how to approach your situation.
What is my role in the process? +
You are the parent and the ultimate decider of what is best for your child and your family. Your role is to gather the advice of the professionals you hire and to do the additional research you need to do to feel comfortable with your decision. We often give parents an initial list of schools, ask them to visit the websites and talk to the admissions counselors, and get back to us with feedback about each place. That helps us either to look to expand the list, or to address your concerns.
Your role as the parent of a young person in a therapeutic boarding school or treatment program varies from program to program. Ask your child’s therapist or family communicator what you can be doing at home to increase the likelihood of your child’s long-term success.
How long can I expect my child will be gone? +
Length of placement can range from family to family and child to child. One factor in thinking about reintegration home is to consider your child’s relationship with substances and the peer influences in your area. Do they have a healthy peer group to return home to? What are the educational options available for your child at home? We can help you answer these and other important questions as we guide you step-by-step through the process.
How do families afford therapeutic programs for their children? +
The unfortunate reality is that these programs are costly, in the neighborhood of $3,000-10,000 monthly depending on your child’s needs. Many families take out educational loans, sell investments, etc. to fund the cost of programs. You need to assess the needs of your family and determine what resources you are willing to put towards your child’s treatment. As a word of caution, some educational loans have strict criteria about which programs they will fund. Make sure your loan will cover the program you choose.
I’ve heard mixed things about wilderness programs. Are they safe? +
Statistics tell us that flying is safer than driving, but that doesn’t keep many people from having a fear of flying. Statistically, participating in a wilderness program is very safe - more safe than driving in a car, safer than participating in athletics, and so on. Please ask if you have specific concerns about your child’s safety in any program that is recommended to you.
My child is adopted. Will he/she feel abandoned if I place her out of our home? +
If you are the parent of an adopted child, the to decision consider out of home placement options may be more difficult for you. However, if handled with care, abandonment and other attachment-related fears can be addressed successfully. Our years of experience in working with adoptive families have given us unique insights into the needs of adopted children and their families. We are experts in the various programs that specialize in treating the unique therapeutic issues that can accompany adoption.
What about my other children? +
Often parents have been so engaged with addressing the needs of one of their children, that other children in the family have received less than their share of their parents’ time, energy, and resources. Parents are often concerned about the troubled relationship between siblings and want them involved in the therapeutic and healing process as quickly as possible. How involved siblings are in the initial treatment process is a decision for you to make with your child’s therapist or family communicator, as some siblings are very angry at the child in treatment. Talk with your child’s therapist about how best to involve your other children in your child’s placement.
My ex-spouse and I disagree on what my child needs. +
This is one of the most difficult challenges parents can face in this process. What do you do when one of you sees the need for out-of-home placement, and the other does not? Most often we see the parent with whom the child has been living is seeking out of home placement, and the non-home parent disagrees. Some parents try having the child switch homes for a period of time with a list of "red flags" for needing treatment if certain behaviors continue. We are very willing to have your spouse call us, and speak to other parents with whom we have worked. Raising these questions early on in the process can help us work with in a more informed and comprehensive way. Also, parenting plans for today’s divorced and separated parents vary widely from state to state - please have a copy available to send to your consultant.