Caroline (16) was referred to our program from probation. She had been in the system since she was in 6th grade and had 17 prior placements, including Psychiatric Residential Treatment facilities, 5 hospital placements and was under the supervision of a probation officer for the past three years. Caroline was receiving weekly individual and family therapy to help her with her anger and coping skills. She had a recent charge of assaulting an officer. The police had been called on her in every previous placement. Caroline was known in previous settings for flipping over tables when she was upset.
Caroline was in our program for 18 months. This was a longer stay than most youth but Caroline had a lot more to overcome. She did not have a supportive family and her mother once stated if she had to stop using drugs for Caroline to return that she would stay at Youth Care and Beyond forever.
While Youth Care and Beyond is not a treatment placement, we worked with Caroline on issues related to her emotional health. Her problem list was extensive, as a result we taught skills like controlling anger and impulses, following simple instructions and coping skills. We helped her improve her hygiene and deal with the trauma of sexual abuse. Our biggest challenge with Caroline showing her we were going to commit to her and not be afraid of her or her behaviors.
We began to see some improvement after 4 months. Caroline slowly let her guard down and trust staff. She began to talk about her past and share things she had not shared before. When asked what made the difference and why she trusted us Caroline said, she started to feel safe because the staff cared about her.
Caroline started to practice daily the skills chosen just for her and participate in weekly skill building. Before long teachers at school began to notice a change in her. Soon after that her grandmother who was not very involved due to her behaviors began to participate more in her care in our program. Caroline was making progress and it was evident to everyone. She had not had a law violation in a year. She had not attacked another person in a year. She had not had any property damage in almost a year. Our last hurdle was school. Caroline was no long attacking teachers and destroying property, but she was walking out of class and leaving school when upset. We worked with Caroline on choosing healthier self control strategies to use at school and before long she was mastering the skill.
We had extreme happiness for Caroline because we realized she was going to leave us soon. She no longer needed this type of care. We knew we had prepared her for life outside of Youth Care and Beyond and worked to help her rejoin the community. She found a youth group, and friends who were not in trouble. She lives with her grandmother who reports she is her little angel again. We are thankful we were allowed the 18 months necessary to make a difference with Caroline. We couldn’t be more happy about her success.
Curt is a 16 year old youth referred to Youth Care & Beyond with issues of substance abuse, defiance towards authority, unaccountable whereabouts, verbal aggression, and truancy. During his interview for placement to Youth Care & Beyond he was in the youth county detention center.
Curt was placed out of home for nearly 2 years. He was originally placed at another group home requiring overnight care like Youth Care & Beyond. After failing there he was sent to Residential Treatment Center and then to another group home. He started to make progress and was released from the court and allowed to go back home. However since returning home he had trouble with school attendance, poor academic performance, behavioral issues at school, several school suspensions, defiance in the home, use of marijuana, inability to follow basic rules of the home, and unaccountable whereabouts.
The court tried in home services to prevent out of home placement and Curt was placed on electronic monitoring. This is very common for youth in our program. Most have failed with in home services. Curt cut his monitor off and failed to engage in home services. Curt’s mother had major concerns that Curt was stealing from her as several items from the home have come up missing such as TV’s, money, and brother’s belongings.
Once in our program we immediately began working of the skills chosen just for Curt. We taught him how to report his whereabouts and earn trust with his family. Daily skill building focused on coping skills, use of appropriate relaxation skills and asking for help. We realized Curt was taking classes much too difficult for his understanding. We assigned a tutor who attended some classes and worked with him after school. We helped Curt learn how to respond to authority figures and to admit when he is wrong.
After 6 months of intense teaching Curt started to make real progress. He was earning passing grades and attending classes daily. After 8 months, Curt’s mother starting to report positive behavior at home. He began to earn extended visits as we wanted to ensure he would do well at home with less structure.
It was now evident to everyone that Curt was nearing the end of his placement. We helped him work on his presence in court and how to handle stressful situations and accept no for an answer if he was unable to return home at this time. Curt demonstrated he learned the skills by becoming a leader among his peers, helping others and doing well with the trust he earned at home.
Curt has now been home for 13 months. He is still attending classes, doing school assignments and has a job. His mother reports she has to tell him to pick up his room from time to time but that is a pretty normal teenage behavior.
Nina sat in her orange jumpsuit with tears quietly rolling down her cheek.
"I don’t know why I get so mad. I don’t really remember anything. The officer said I hit him several times while I was screaming. I was charged with assault, destruction of property and disturbing the peace. I don’t remember any of this."
Nina hung her head down. Through questioning she shared that this is not the first time this has happened. She stated this is why she is in the “system”. Nina has been in multiple placements and is being interviewed about admission to Youth Care & Beyond.
At only 15 years old Nina already had a few run ins with the police and was frequently in trouble at school. Every other group home in the state turned her down due to her referral behaviors. She was referred for destruction of property, running away, not following school or home rules, and substance abuse. Nina was admitted to our program in October 2015 and was assigned the goals of respecting authority and managing her emotions. Nina attended weekly group skill building and worked engaged in individual skill building daily. It was not easy, Nina made a few mistakes and at times she wanted to give up but Nina kept trying. She says that one of the family staff constantly tells her she will not give up on her.
Nina is going to graduate from our program next month. She is so excited to talk about her goals. Nina says, “Youth Care & Beyond was the only place in Nebraska that would take me. My judge was going to send me somewhere outside Nebraska, but Youth Care & Beyond said yes!”
When asked what specifically helped Nina improve her behavior she reports the Family Staff in the group home really listen and help her learn better ways of solving problems.
Family Staff are in the program 24 hours a day and will even act out situations to help her practice. Nina goes to court in May 2016. Her probation officer and guardian ad litem both plan to recommend her to return home.
Her mother reports Nina is back to being her delightful child again.
Youth Care & Beyond is currently working with Nina’s mom to help her learn to give appropriate consequences and establish reasonable rules.