By The Chronicle of Social Change, July 10, 2019.
By the time Skylar was a teenager, his mother was serving a life sentence for manslaughter. His biological father was homeless, addicted to drugs and completely uninvolved in his life. As a result, Skylar began to spiral into destructive behaviors, such as theft, assault and defiance toward authority.
With the help and support of residential behavioral health treatment provided by Sequel Youth and Family Services, he was able to stabilize and put his life on a productive path. He learned independent living skills, earned his high school diploma and completed a Certified Nursing Assistant program – which is how Skylar is employed today. Skylar’s story is just one success story among thousands of young people who have accessed care at a residential treatment center.
Residential behavioral health treatment facilities are an important component in the continuum of care for the small percentage of youth with intensive to severe behavioral health needs. Often times these youth are placed in this setting by county and state child welfare, juvenile justice, education and mental health systems. Residential treatment facilities offer the evidenced-based treatment these youth need, preferably close to home, giving them the best opportunity to reach their fullest potential and eventually transition back to their families, schools and communities.
Sadly though, there are thousands of other youth in our nation who are like Skylar, but don’t get a second chance to put themselves on a path for success because their community doesn’t provide access to residential treatment facilities designed to support their intensive mental and behavioral health needs.
All stakeholders in our behavioral health system – Congress, state legislators, federal and state agencies, providers and more — must understand the important role that residential treatment plays in the child welfare system. As a nation, we must commit to reallocating the funds and establishing the resources that enable youth to have access to quality residential treatment services closer to home and community.