Potential questions to ask therapeutic boarding schools and other schools for troubled teens (click here for an abbreviated list):
- Who is the owner and director?
- When did the program open?
- Are they a licensed facility through their state?
- What is the number of students they are licensed to enroll?
- What is the age range they accept?
- Is the staff qualified for their position with the school? Do you perform background checks on staff prior to hiring?
- Who is the director and what are their credentials and background?
- Can I speak with the director personally?
- Does the staff participate in continuing education?
- Does the program employ a full-time psychologist or LCSW? Is the facility licensed? Please note that many religious affiliated programs have mental health counselors. These are not the same as LCSW or psychologists and insurances will not recognize them. Most religious program do not have to meet the same standards and regulations as traditional residential therapy programs. It’s important to do your research on many of them. When you notice tuitions are significantly less than most, it should be a red flag.
- How many years has the school/program been in operation?
- Are there extra fees over the tuition?
- What is the average stay? Is there aftercare?
- What is the success rate? Is there a guarantee? (Most cannot give an accurate success rate since families are all very unique with different circumstances).
- If my child turns 18, can they stay if they are willing to?
- Do you offer open enrollment?
- What is the average age and how many students are in the school?
- If it is coed, are males and females kept separate? How?
- Which form(s) of discipline is/are used? What are their consequences?
- Will my teen have access to cell phone and/or internet? What are the policies on usage?
- Are the academics accredited? Through what organization? Ask for a copy.
- Will my teen’s transcripts be accepted at their local school?
- Are the teachers credentialed? What is their experience?
- Do you offer special education or help with learning disabilities?
- Are SAT, ACT, or other college placement tests available at the school?
- What extracurricular opportunities are offered? Do you offer music, sports, arts, animal therapy etc?
- Do you offer vocational or college courses?
- Are there extra fees for special classes?
Medical and Therapy:
- Is therapy offered and is it included in the tuition?
- If not, what is the fee and will my insurance cover it?
- Where is the nearest hospital to the facility?
- Is there a doctor or nurse on staff? If not, how often do they visit?
- Do you accept children on medication? Does this school/program believe in medication?
- Will you keep a child that doesn’t want to attend? How?
- Do you accept children that are professionally transported to the program/school?
- Can the child be expelled/dismissed? If so, what must they do to get expelled/dismissed?
- Do you accept teens that are extremely aggressive?
- Do you accept court appointed teens?
- Do you accept teens with criminal records?
- What types of children are accepted into the school?
- What are the consequences for children that become out of control?
Financial, Legal, and the Contract:
- What is the tuition? What does it include? What doesn’t it include?
- Do you offer educational loans?
- Do you offer scholarships?
- What is the termination policy? If we decide to remove our child prior the completion of the contract, are there penalties?
- Should an attorney review the contract for our family?
- Is there a discount if we pre-pay tuition in full?
- Do you accept IEPs?
- Do you accept medical insurance? Will you file for us? Ask the program to run a verification of benefits for you (VOB) to determine how much will be covered.
- If my child is 17+ years old, can they legally sign themselves out of a program? In certain states, this is allowed.
*Most contracts will give the school/program temporary custody of your child. This is in the event that they need to have medical treatment for him/her, or if a child runs away, gets picked up by authorities for whatever reason, they will only release a child to a custodial or guardian.
Most contracts will also state that this in no way supersedes or replaces the rights of the parent which means that we will always communicate with the parent and submit to the parent regarding decisions for their child.
- If a teen runs away, what procedure is taken?
- Is the facility staff secured 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
- What are the credentials of the staff?
- What is the staff-to-student ratio?
- Is there regulations put on mail and phone calls?
- Do staff members read the mail? Do they monitor the calls?
- If it is coed, are boys and girls kept separate and how?
Visits to the School and Communication:
- Can we visit the school prior our child’s enrollment?
- Will I be able to speak with my child? How often?
- When can we expect our first visit after our child is enrolled?
- How often can I visit my child? Are there required visits for parents?
- Will I be allowed to take my child off campus?
- Will I be allowed to have weekend visits off campus with my child?
- Will my teen come home for the holidays? What is the schedule?
- Do you offer transportation to the airports? What is the fee for this?
Learn about questions to ask parent references.