Ensuring a Successful Back-to-School Season for Youth in Residential Care
The back-to-school season brings excitement, nerves, and a season of change for youth of all ages across the country. Youth in Residential or Group Homes may require extra support, and the Youth Care Workers and Staff Members at One Hope United’s Residential programs take careful steps to ensure children and youth have the resources and encouragement they need for a successful school year.
Read below for a special guest blog from Emily Owen, MS, Director of Programs and Placement Services at the Centralia Residential and Group Home Campuses, about what the back-to-school season looks like for youth in Residential care in Illinois.
Back-to-school is a time we celebrate in our Residential and Group Home programs each year. Every summer, we throw a Summer Kick-Off event that involves BBQ, games and laughter. Most of our youth attend a summer school program through the month of June. During this time, youth attend classes for half of the day to receive additional educational support and most importantly, credit recovery. This assists in keeping structure and routine in place for the youth as well.
School can be a difficult time for some. A lot of the youth in our care have bounced around in several different schools because of placement changes, and as a result, are behind academically. This can also be a barrier for developing and strengthening social skills, as well as participating in extra curricular activities. However, many of the youth we serve thrive in school and look forward to getting back into the ritual and routine of the school day. We work with each youth to foster their unique interests and make sure that their needs are being met.
The young women at our campuses participate in back-to-school clothing shopping as well as supply shopping to prepare for the upcoming school year. One unique aspect of serving many different clients is that they all have individual educational needs. Our youth could attend a variety of schools based on their educational needs, and it is possible that we could be sending youth to 1 of 6 potential educational settings. This can be a juggling act for staff and youth scheduling and transportation needs.
Each year, we host a back-to-school bash to get our youth excited about the new school year. It is very important for our programs to honor the societal norms that are occurring in traditional homes so that we can make our youth feel like they are special, and to make sure they have access to similar home-based experiences their peers have. Last year, we provided youth with a special back-to-school gift bag that included many fun items for them to enjoy. The bag included sensory items as well as a hand-crafted bracelet with an encouraging note. These types of acts of kindness are always appreciated and encouraged from our donors.