Lawrence Hall Youth Services, Chicago, IL

Clinically Appropriate Length of Stay: Youth and Staff Driven Process for Residential Program Re-Design

Abstract: Lawrence Hall Youth Services’ (LHYS) 48-bed residential and 16-bed family community home (Group Home) treatment programs serve adolescent boys, most of whomare wards of the state of Illinois. Its programs are located in Chicago, Illinois, a major urban center. Historically, lengths of stay in these aggregate care programs have averaged 14-16 months. In an attempt to reduce average lengths of stay and move clients through the treatment programs in a clinically appropriate manner, LHYS has implemented a youth- and staff driven process to re-design the core structure of the program. Staff and youth were involved in each stage of the process, which promoted buy-in and valuable perspectives. The treatment program was re-designed to reflect clearly defined “phases of treatment”and accompanying treatment objectives. Clients were given more ownership over the team staffing and treatment planning process. Celebratory community rituals, based upon a balanced and restorative justice framework, were integrated into each phase of treatment, which enhanced meaning and increased motivation for treatment. Family engagement was also seen as a critical variable in supporting more clinically appropriate lengths of stay.

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