Are you considering a therapeutic boarding school, residential treatment centers, or school for troubled teens? A quick internet search may not deliver the results you’re looking for. This is why it’s imperative to do your due diligence to find a program that suits your teens needs. 

Questions to Ask When Finding a Program for Troubled Teens

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re choosing a program to “teach your child a lesson.” More likely, you have a good child that’s making bad choices, so a harsh environment and poor treatment may only add to their anger and even build resentment.

In reality, not all schools and programs are who they say they are — which is why you are here, doing your research. The following list of questions to ask the various people involved in the program can make your decision a little easier.

Behavioral Questions

  • What types of children are accepted into the program/school?
  • Will you accept a child that doesn’t want to attend? How?
  • Do you accept teens that are extremely aggressive?
  • Will you accept a teen with a criminal record?
  • Do you accept court-appointed teenagers?
  • What are the consequences for children that become out of control?
  • Are children ever expelled/dismissed? If so, what causes this?
  • Can a child be professionally transported to the program/school?

Educational Questions

  • Is the program/school accredited? Through what organization?
  • Do you offer special education or classes for those with learning disabilities?
  • Do you offer extracurricular opportunities like music, sports, arts?
  • Do you offer college or vocational courses?
  • Are there extra costs for special classes?
  • Are SAT, ACT, or other college placement tests available?

Medical and Therapy Questions

  • Do you accept children on medication? Does the program/school believe in medication?
  • Is therapy offered? If so, is it included in tuition? If not, what is the fee and do you accept insurance?
  • Is there a doctor or nurse on staff? If not, how often do they visit?
  • Where is the nearest hospital?

Program and Staff Questions

  • How many years has the program/school been in operation?
  • Do you offer open enrollment?
  • How many students are in the school and what’s the average age?
  • If it is coed, are males and females separated?
  • Which form(s) of discipline is/are used?
  • What are your policies on cell phones and/or the internet?
  • What qualifications do the staff have?
  • Do you perform background checks on staff?
  • Does the program employ a full time psychologist or LCSW? Is the facility licensed?
  • Do the teachers have credentials? How can I find out about their experience?
  • Does the staff participate in continuing education?
  • What is the average stay? What is the success rate? 
  • If my child turns 18, can they stay if willing?
  • Do you offer aftercare?

Financial and Legal Questions

  • What is the tuition? What does it include/exclude?
  • Are there discounts for pre-paying tuition in full?
  • Do you offer educational loans or scholarships?
  • Do you accept IEPs?
  • Do you accept medical insurance? Will you file for us?
  • What is the termination policy? Are there penalties?
  • Should an attorney review the contract for our family?
  • If my child is 17+ years old, can they legally sign themselves out of a program?

Communication and Visitation Questions

  • Can I tour the school before enrolling my child?
  • Will I be able to speak with my child? How often?
  • How often can I visit my child? Are visits required for parents?
  • Can I take my child off campus?
  • Can my child come home for the holidays?
  • Do you offer transportation to the airports or train stations?

If you feel you have valid concerns or you don’t understand something, don’t allow the program director to overlook your questions. Keep asking until you receive an appropriate response. You are your child’s advocate, and you deserve open communication and answers.