Youth Residential Treatment – What to Know and What to Ask

Youth Residential Treatment – What to Know and What to Ask

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan Gurley is the Executive Director of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a non-profit international mental health association. She is a lawyer and advocate with 25 years of leadership experience working in the mental health and access to justice fields, international development and legal reform, and higher education administration.

Prior to joining ADAA, Ms. Gurley held senior-level positions in several U.S. government agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ms. Gurley served as both the Assistant Dean for International and Graduate Programs, at the Georgetown University School of Law and as an Adjunct Faculty Member. While at Georgetown she created the International Human Rights and National Security Law Certificate Programs. Ms. Gurley also worked as the Deputy Executive Director of Equal Justice Works, and as the Director of Legal Reform at the East West Management Institute (EWMI), where she managed several overseas offices, created  EWMI’s first land reform program, and expanded programming to Asia. She also ran the Association of Corporate Business Travel Executives, where she opened the association’s first office in Latin America and testified before Congress on privacy issues. 

Ms. Gurley has extensive non-profit Board experience. She has served on the Boards of Film Aid International, on the Board of the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). She also serves on the Advisory Committee for Her Wealth, an organization promoting financial literacy for women. 

Over the past five years, she has served as a technical expert volunteer on capacity building projects in Cambodia, Philippines, and Tanzania. For her volunteer work, she has been awarded the Frank Pace award by IESC as well as the 2020 Innovator of the Year award by USAID’s Farmer- to- Farmer program. 

Ms. Gurley is a Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of the Virginia Bar. Ms. Gurley has worked in 30+ countries and speaks French, German, and Hungarian. 

Email Susan.

Youth Residential Treatment – What to Know and What to Ask

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Residential treatment for youth

Residential facilities can provide a safe, structured, and treatment-oriented environment for children who need temporary care outside of the home or community. Therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment facilities or centers (RTFs or RTCs), special camps, and some faith-based academies are examples of places that offer comprehensive in-patient care, schooling and treatment for children who need more support. 

To ensure you find the right placement for your child, we recommend asking the center or facility that you are considering some important questions about their program, best practices, and regulations. The answers you gather can help you and your medical provider select the right treatment for your child.

Important Questions to Ask:

1.    Is the program state-licensed or accredited? 

A program should be state-licensed or accredited for at least three components: educational, mental/behavioral health, and residential. 

2.    Ascertain if the facility and/or its staff have any complaints against them.

Having a full and clear picture of the program you are sending your child to is important. We recommend that you check with the accreditation body to find out if there have been any complaints filled. 

3.    Does the program recommend involuntary admittance? 

Get clear insight on a program’s approach to involuntary admittance and consult a mental health professional or your child’s physician about the impact of involuntary admittance. 

4.    What is their communication policy about phone, texting, and email with your child?

Limiting communication may make it difficult for your child to feel comfortable and/or report an incident should it occur. Gather all the information you can from a program and decide with a mental health professional if that is the best therapeutic approach for your child. 

5.    What is the daily routine at the facility? What would your child’s day-to-day life look like?

Unfortunately, isolation, public shaming, threatening incidents, and other unsanctioned / unethical practices can occur. Be clear on the day-to-day schedule for your child - how much free time they have, what sort of therapy or counseling they receive, and any required chores. This will help ensure you select a facility that has the best interests of your child in mind.

6.    Does the program use restraints, as-needed medications (PRNs) or physical force of any kind?

Understand the program’s policy about restraints, the administration of unscheduled medications for an uncontrolled escalation, and any hands-on interventions they may use. Make sure to review that information with your child’s medical providers.         

Before enrolling your child in a program, be sure to consult with your child’s medical providers. We also recommend asking for references and gathering as much support and resources as you can to make an informed decision. You may also want to consider having a lawyer look at any contract before you sign to ensure that you do not sign over your custodial rights or give unintended permissions to the facility.

Resources and Additional Information:

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan Gurley is the Executive Director of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a non-profit international mental health association. She is a lawyer and advocate with 25 years of leadership experience working in the mental health and access to justice fields, international development and legal reform, and higher education administration.

Prior to joining ADAA, Ms. Gurley held senior-level positions in several U.S. government agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ms. Gurley served as both the Assistant Dean for International and Graduate Programs, at the Georgetown University School of Law and as an Adjunct Faculty Member. While at Georgetown she created the International Human Rights and National Security Law Certificate Programs. Ms. Gurley also worked as the Deputy Executive Director of Equal Justice Works, and as the Director of Legal Reform at the East West Management Institute (EWMI), where she managed several overseas offices, created  EWMI’s first land reform program, and expanded programming to Asia. She also ran the Association of Corporate Business Travel Executives, where she opened the association’s first office in Latin America and testified before Congress on privacy issues. 

Ms. Gurley has extensive non-profit Board experience. She has served on the Boards of Film Aid International, on the Board of the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). She also serves on the Advisory Committee for Her Wealth, an organization promoting financial literacy for women. 

Over the past five years, she has served as a technical expert volunteer on capacity building projects in Cambodia, Philippines, and Tanzania. For her volunteer work, she has been awarded the Frank Pace award by IESC as well as the 2020 Innovator of the Year award by USAID’s Farmer- to- Farmer program. 

Ms. Gurley is a Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of the Virginia Bar. Ms. Gurley has worked in 30+ countries and speaks French, German, and Hungarian. 

Email Susan.

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