Choosing the right program for a child is a huge decision for families. There are hundreds of programs out there each offering something different. Families want to make sure their child is going to a program that is the perfect fit, but with so many diverse programs, and families and children with equally diverse needs, how should families go about deciding which program is right for them? Below, we have listed a few questions we feel every family should ask when touring or comparing different programs for their child. We have also included Northwest College Support’s answer to these questions. We hope that these questions provide some clarity to the process of finding the right program for your child.
What is included in the cost? Are there extra costs?
This is an extremely important question to ask. For many families cost is a big factor in making a therapeutic decision. It is important for families to have a clear understanding of what services are included in the cost of a program as well as how often those services are received. Equally important is understanding what is not included in the cost. Also, an understanding of payment plans and options can help inform a family’s decision.
At Northwest College Support, multiple one-on-one sessions of therapy, life coaching, and education coaching are provided weekly and are included within our monthly costs. Housing is also included in the monthly cost as well as student-optional weekly activities in the community. These activities may include yoga classes, movie nights, and eating out. Not included in NWCS’s monthly cost are any necessary psychiatry appointments or services, college tuition, grocery money, and incidentals such as school supplies.
What role does the family play while my child is in the program?
Programs have varying expectations for the role of parents and families during the course of the program. It’s important for parents to know if there are times they would be required to come to family workshops or orientations, and what level of communication the program typically has with the family.
NWCS has weekly phone calls with with families. Families are welcome to come visit their students as therapeutically appropriate. Family therapy is available on a case-by-case basis.
What kind of academic support will my child receive?
Some programs specialize in high school completion or credit recovery. Some programs may be considered strongly college-prep. Young adult programs may have a strong emphasis on support with post-high school education while other young adult programs may be more life-skills focused. Having an idea of what your child’s educational capabilities and long-term goals can help inform a decision on the level of academic support you are looking for in a program.
Northwest College Support provides multiple one-on-one weekly sessions of academic coaching to support students in their academic endeavors whether that be GED completion, two or four year college degrees, or vocational programs. Students enrolled in NWCS may receive academic testing and assessment from our on-staff school psychologist. Students also have access to our study lounge facility.
Who are the professionals my child will work with?
When an individual is admitted into a program they will likely be working very closely with staff and form close relationships them. It is wise to meet staff members on a program tour and ask about their credentials and professional background.
At NWCS all staff members have earned a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Our staff includes master-level licensed and certified therapists and educational specialists. The life coaches also have vast experience in mentoring young adults.
How is medication handled?
Medication is an important issue for many families. It’s crucial that families understand a program’s policies and procedures in regards to medication.
At NWCS, if a student has demonstrated an ability to manage their medications in the past, it may be decided by a collaborative discussion with the staff, family, and student that the student will continue to manage their own medication. If that is not the case, medication is kept in secure storage at NWCS’s offices, and students fill their medication with a staff member present at an interval (typically weekly) appropriate for that student.
What level of freedom/ access would my child have?
It’s good for both parents and their children to get an accurate idea of what kind of freedom is allowed within a program. For instance, are people enrolled in the program allowed to leave the facility? Are they allowed to come home for visits? Can they have a cell phone? Will they have access to money?
Northwest College Support supports the idea that NWCS is a true adult program. Students enrolled in NWCS live in 1-2 person apartments owned by the program. Our students take college courses and work jobs in the communities. Students are allowed adult freedoms as deemed therapeutically appropriate through a collaboration with families, staff, and students.
What is the typical length of time in the program?
This is a good question to ask because it can give families a more clear perspective of the structure of the program as well as help give perspective on longterm goals (such as attending college).
Northwest College Support requires a four month commitment which is approximately the length of a semester. After the first four months, that there is more flexibility. Most students work with NWCS for about a year’s time.
How much supervision would my child have?
This is a critical question as some families may have significant safety concerns for their children. Some programs may be staffed 24/7 whiled others are not. Some programs may require a client live in the program’s facility while other programs can allow clients to have a residence on their own. Families should have a very clear idea of what the level of supervision inside of a program is like so that an informed decision about what is most appropriate for their child can be made.
Northwest College Support does not provide 24-hour direct line-of-sight supervision, although direct care staff members are always on shift 24 hours a day including nights and weekends. Most students at NWCS live in program housing so staff have access to check in on their living environment.