DYS employs a graduated Aftercare system which helps ensure youth exiting a residential program receive the services and support needed to be successful. With rare exception, all youth receive Aftercare services when they leave a residential treatment program. While on Aftercare, the Service Coordinator (SC) provides support, supervision and the services necessary to help youth transition to life at home and in the community. Service Coordinators reinforce skills the youth learn in while in residential treatment and provide continued guidance and supervision. Depending on the youth’s needs at that time, a Service Coordinator may act as a counselor, a supervisor, an advocate, or as a coach.
Prior to the youth’s release from residential programming, the Service Coordinator, in conjunction with the youth’s guardians and facility staff, will hold a transition meeting(s) and begin to develop an Aftercare plan. Typically this plan will focus on continued education, treatment and/or employment. Planning for release while still in program ensures a seamless transition to Aftercare as potential problems and solutions are identified and goals developed. Aftercare is usually preceded by treatment furloughs where a youth may return home for one or more overnight visits prior to their actual release.
Specifically, Aftercare is the period of supervision a youth receives after a residential placement but prior their release from custody. It is designed to allow youth an opportunity to practice the skills learned during the previous phase of their treatment. During Aftercare, SC activity is increased to insure the transition from a residential placement to the home environment is successful. Supervision contact, while generally frequent initially (weekly), is later based on the youth and family’s needs in the community. Other factors that might influence the youth’s ability to be successful are also considered (e.g. school attendance, employment, counseling, etc.). The SC attempts to support the family while continuously pushing them towards self-sufficiency. The SC might assist the family system in a variety of ways, such as making referrals for family therapy, assisting in job placement, located community services opportunities, or advocating for the youth in the public school system, etc.
The length of Aftercare services depends on the specific needs of the youth and family but is seldom less than 4 months. Challenges while on Aftercare can be met in a variety of ways, depending on the level of concern. Options include, increased contact with the service coordinator, brief returns to residential placement, alternative placements (e.g. Drug & Alcohol Program, etc.), or revocation. Revocation is reserved only for youth who truly require additional, long-term residential treatment. In these situations, the youth is returned to the residential phase of programming and the process essentially “starts over” with a revisiting of the original Individual Treatment Plan.
Ultimately, the youth’s ITP is completed after a successful period of Aftercare. At that time, the SC will review the case with his/her supervisor and regional management. If all agree, a letter is sent to the family and the committing court advising both parties of the youth’s release from DYS custody.