How to Find Youth At-Risk Programs

Updated: Nov 29

When your teen son starts getting into trouble, it can be difficult to know what to do. You want to help, but you also don’t want to enable his bad behavior. He needs to learn that there are consequences for his actions, but you don’t want those consequences to be too severe.

Teens don’t always think about the long-term consequences of their actions. They might realize that they’re risking getting into trouble, but they don’t realize that severe trouble can impact them long into adulthood. Decisions made during the teen years can change the course of a kid’s life.

As the parent of an unruly teen, you know the real risk involved in your son’s actions. If your interventions at home haven’t worked, it might be time to look for quality youth at-risk programs. Quality residential programs hire staff members trained to work with students and families to overcome behavioral problems and help teens grow into responsible adults.

At Sundance Canyon Academy, our licensed therapists work with teens who exhibit various behavioral and mental health problems. We offer a caring approach to therapy that includes individual, group, and family therapy sessions. We know that youth at-risk programs need to focus on more than just behavior change to be successful. True change requires a change in mindset.

Finding youth at-risk programs

When looking for a youth at-risk program, there are several factors to consider. Look for a few options, and sift through them to find the best one for your family.

Choosing the right approach

Most youth at-risk programs are accustomed to working with students who get into trouble at home. However, their approach to working with those students can be vastly different. Many programs focus on behavior modification to try and get teens to straighten up and act right.

While programs like military schools or teen boot camps do have success, they don’t always produce the change that parents want. Focusing on punishing bad behavior can get teens to change their actions for a while. They want to avoid an immediate negative consequence, following the rules.

In life outside of the youth at-risk program, consequences aren’t always immediate. Teens need to understand how to set long-term goals and make choices that bring them closer to their goals. Otherwise, they can slip back into old patterns and short-sighted thinking.

When choosing a youth at-risk program for your teen son, look for a location that will hold him accountable for his actions and teach him to think about the future. When teens only learn to avoid punishment, they miss out on planning for success.

Choosing the right staff

Youth programs across the country offer many different options, and they don’t have the same staffing requirements. If you want your son to receive professional treatment, enroll him in a program that hires professionals.

When talking to the program about enrollment, ask questions like:

  1. What are your doctor’s or therapist’s qualifications?

  2. What certifications are non-therapeutic staff required to have?

  3. Do all of your staff members, volunteers, and partners have to pass a background check?

Only consider youth at-risk programs that hire qualified staff and ensure the safety of their students.

Choosing the right facility

There are many quality youth at-risk programs. Choose one that suits the needs of your son and your family.

Look for things like:

  1. Offers different types of family therapy so that you all can attend (in-person, video call, phone call, etc.)

  2. Offers enrichment activities that your son will enjoy

  3. Offers high school classes so that your son can stay on track in school

  4. Offers different types of therapy so that your son can learn in a way that meets his needs

  5. Accepts students with your son’s behavioral or mental health problems

  6. Accepts your insurance or offers payment options

If you are considering a youth at-risk program for your teen son, contact us today to learn more about our program. Our staff is ready to help you take the next step in helping your teen toward success.

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