06 Jul One Size Fits None: Introducing TEAM & STARS
Change is inevitable on the Youth Opportunity Center campus. The need for more specialized clinical services and intensive behavioral interventions has resulted in the YOC modifying three residential programs to more effectively meet the needs of our clients and placing agents.
Director of Psychological Services Robyn N. Eubank, HSPP stated,
“YOC children have experienced significant traumatic life experiences. Our treatment programs have been enhanced by increasing the individualized services needed for youth with developmental and intellectual disabilities and children with significant psychological impairments. Our treatment approach is unique to each child we serve.”
The youth the YOC serves today face more severe challenges. The youth have much more complex psychological issues, significantly increased behavioral problems, poor academic achievement, and are more likely to be on the autism spectrum than ever before. The situations of the youth are increasingly complex and their needs are more extensive.
As a result of increased need and requests from placing agents, the YOC made a strategic decision to move forward with two new targeted therapeutic residential programs.
The YOC recently launched the TEAM (Teaching and Empowering Adolescent Males) program. It serves adolescent males with significant criminal and behavioral issues.
“People don’t like to talk about these criminalized kids,” stated CEO Rick Rowray. “The question for society is at what point can they no longer be rehabilitated? If we just put them into correctional environments, we know what the answer is going to be. Their lifetime trajectory is incarceration.”
Specially trained treatment staff focus on the key treatment philosophy which includes the importance of respecting authority, building healthy relationships, managing anger, exercising self-control, accepting personal responsibility, making positive choices, learning to effectively resolve conflicts, improving academic performance, and developing enhanced moral reasoning.
Rowray added, “We’re trying to reach the kids where they are, acknowledge that their behavior is based to some degree on their family history, traumatic life experiences and their environmental circumstances. Whatever their circumstance, this is perhaps their last opportunity to learn a different way.”
The YOC recently opened the STARS (Skills Training for Adolescents in Residential Services) program devoted to helping adolescents who have developmental and intellectual disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.
To effectively implement this newly designed program, one of the nine YOC cottages has been adapted to a sensory-friendly environment. A calming room was added, where kids can find solitude. Sensory stations, where they can touch various textures hanging on the wall were also added. “These are important considerations for kids on the autism spectrum who often suffer from sensory overload,” says Dr. Eubank.
The treatment needs within the STARS program are unique and intensive. This highly structured program addresses the physical, emotional, social, vocational, cognitive and sensory-motor development needs of youth. The program’s youth will practice socialization and daily living skills, including hygiene. A major goal will be to help them lower their own anxiety so they can be more self-controlled.
“The children we serve today are much different than when we were founded in 1992,” Rowray said. “The complexity of the child and the intricate and heightened needs require highly specialized care. We are adapting our programs to meet the needs of the children we serve and provide the resources needed that will improve outcomes for our youth.”