Education is critical to sustainable life change. Just ask the staff at CHD’s Community Adolescent Treatment Program (CATP.)
CATP, one of 70 CHD programs and services, plays a vital role in preparing youth in the Department of Youth Services custody for a successful transition back home. Youth typically enter the program facing issues such as aggression, substance abuse, gang involvement, poverty, low academic performance and lack of basic life skills. Over several months, program staff provide intensive services including individual and family therapy, life skills development, anger management, substance use treatment, positive recreational activities—and a high school curriculum.
“The youth live here, get individual therapy here, and go to school here,” said Clara Snowden, CATP Program Manager. “This is secure residential treatment, so the environment is different than a regular high school, but courses are taught by certified teachers. The curriculum and the standards are the same. The youth have to approach their school work seriously.”
Recently, CATP held its second Academic Excellence event with families in attendance to recognize five teenage boys who earned a spot on the Honor Roll this term. One youth, initials “E.S.,” came to CATP with charges for distribution of a class-A substance, heroin. As a teen he was separated from his family and got in with the wrong crowd. He’s been at CATP for four months and he’ll be here several months more. While talking about the bad decision he made, he admits the embarrassment he caused his family. He knows what he did was wrong and is ready to start a new chapter in his young life.
“I’m a different person than I was,” he said. “I am away from my family and it’s hard, but I do well in school and that makes me feel good. I’m trying to graduate and get my diploma. I know what I want to do and I have a family here at CHD and at home ready to support me.”
This term, E.S. earned a 3.72 grade point average, the highest in the program. He is the first student in CATP to earn five A’s in one semester! His favorite subject is Social Studies. In February, he researched Olympian Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and presented his research to the program.
“When E.S. arrived at CATP, he asked the staff to help him improve his English,” said Snowden. “That was a goal he set for himself, and now he acts as a translator for his family when they come to visit. While he is here he will gain skills he didn’t have before. He’s doing great in school. He asks teachers for extra work. He sets a good example for the other youth and has great relationships with our staff and his peers in the dorm.”
What advice does E.S. have for young people on making a successful life? “Don’t let your mistakes define who you are. Learn to change your behavior and do good things. Learn to look ahead.”
“E.S” is one of five Honor Roll students who were recognized during CHD’s CATP Educational Excellence event. All have come to recognize that school is important. “They acknowledge that earning their education matters,” said Snowden, “and they’re sticking with it. We provide them with a structured opportunity to learn and practice skills they will need to be successful, and we’re here to support them every step of the way.”
The Community Adolescent Treatment Program is a three to nine month, twenty four hour, seven days per week, staff secured residential treatment program funded by the Department of Youth Services (DYS) to provide a wide array of clinical, treatment, educational, residential and pre-vocational services to eighteen boys at a time, age 12 to 21 years old, who are committed to DYS. Many of the youth entering the program are faced with a myriad of issues which include mental illness, aggression, substance abuse, family dysfunction, gang involvement, under level academic performance, low self-esteem, lack of basic life skills, poverty and other issues often related to themselves being a victim of abuse or neglect.
The Community Adolescent Treatment Program plays a vital role in preparing the youth and their families, for their successful transition back to their homes by providing them with numerous intensive services such as; individual and family therapy, life skills groups, anger management groups, substance use treatment, positive recreational activities, educational and pre-vocational testing, counseling and direction, pre-employment training and job shadowing opportunities.