Questions to Ask Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

It is time to interview places to send troubled teens, therapeutic boarding schools that can help your troubled teenager. In many cases it is the first time you are learning about behavioral boarding schools.


After an exhaustive search, you have decided on at least two programs to extensively interview. What are the questions to ask boarding schools for troubled teens to get more insights?


  1. Who is the owner and director?
  2. When did the program open?
  3. Are they a licensed facility through their state?
  4. What is the number of students they are licensed to enroll?
  5. What is the age range they accept?


  1. Are the staff credentialed for their positions? Does the school do background checks on all applicant’s prior employment?
  2. Does the program employ a full-time LCSW or psychologist?
  3. What is the staff to student ratio?
  4. Can you speak to the program director? (This should always be a YES answer).
  5. Are the staff positions required to participate in continuing education?


  1. Is the academics accredited and through what organization? (Always wise to get a copy).
  2. Do they have classroom teachers or online learning?
  3. Do they offer accommodations for learning differences?
  4. Do they offer ACT or SAT testing?
  5. Do they offer college or vocational classes?

Medical and Therapy:


  1. Where is the nearest hospital?
  2. Do they accept students on medication?
  3. Do they have a nurse on staff?
  4. Is therapy included in the tuition?
  5. Do they prescribe medications?

Behavioral Issues:

  1. Do they accept teens unwilling to attend? (Enrolled through assisted transportation).
  2. What are the consequences for a child that becomes out-of-control?
  3. What happens if your child runs away?
  4. What happens if your child refuses to participate in the program?
  5. Can your child get kicked out?

Communication and Visits:

  1. Can you visit the school/program prior enrolling your child?
  2. How often will you be able to speak with your child?
  3. When can you expect your first visit, and what is their schedule for family therapy?
  4. Will you have off-campus visits with your child? Can your child come home on holidays?
  5. Will they monitor their child’s mail/email? Will you be able who they receive mail from?

Financial and the Contract:

  1. What is the tuition, what does it include, what doesn’t it include?
  2. What is the termination policy (review your contract)? First if you decide to remove your child and second if your child is asked to leave.
  3. Is there is discount if you pre-pay your tuition?
  4. Do they file medical insurance, or will they give you invoices for you to file it?
  5. If your child is of legal age and walks-out, are you still financially obligated? (This can sometimes happen if you have a 17-year-old in a state that has age of consent at 17).

Many of these questions do not require right or wrong answers, it is more about what a parent’s comfort level is or how a program operates their school. For example, if the student to staff ratio is 8:1 and you believe your child needs a more supervised environment, you may want to consider a smaller program where the staff to ratio is closer to 4:1.

Another example would be if you have a younger teen and the program does not offer college courses, it would not be a concern for you. These questions are more about opening an awareness about what this particular boarding school for troubled teen offers and having a better understanding of your expectations.

In our over two decades of experience in researching, investigating and interviewing schools and programs, your best source of information is parent references. Take time to speak with parents that have taken this journey before you at the program you are considering. Our Research Tips page offers more valuable insights when searching for boarding schools and informative questions to ask parents that have been down this road already.

Knowledge is power, you will be making the right decision for your child and family.

Read: Why Therapeutic Boarding Schools Are Effective.

Read: What is the Cost of Schools for Troubled Teens.

Read: 5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

More questions to ask schools and programs.


Do you need help researching therapeutic boarding schools for your troubled teen? Contact us for a free consultation. Since 2001 we have been helping parents find the right residential treatment.

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