Frequently Asked Questions
How soon can my child get into your treatment program?
Our admissions department will work with families and other referral sources to understand your needs. To determine which program and level of care is the best fit, our Admissions Department Intake Clinical Therapists will complete an assessment. The length of time from referral to admission varies. Sometimes families contact us weeks or even months ahead of time to plan for an admission. Other times we are contacted for a more immediate placement. Unlike emergency shelters and acute hospitals, we are unable to accept walk-ins or same-day admissions but we will always do our best to work closely with you to best meet your needs and expedite placement if needed. The admissions process involves interviews with the guardian, youth, current treatment providers, and others as indicated, and includes a review of any historical documentation available for the child. Generally this assessment process, once initiated, takes 4-7 days. Upon its completion, if AK Child & Family treatment programs are determined appropriate for your child, admission scheduling can begin.
Could I take my child out of treatment at any time?
The services provided through AK Child & Family are consumer-driven and voluntary. On occasion, we may also serve youth who have been mandated into treatment through the court system. Families are an integral part of treatment and help guide the treatment direction, including determining projected discharge dates. Because discharge planning is so important it begins at the start of treatment and is continually revisited. We encourage youth / families to work closely with their assigned treatment team to achieve mutually agreed upon goals that will lead to a successful discharge. Legal guardians may remove a child from treatment prematurely, however, this can be highly disruptive to the therapeutic process and is therefore discouraged.
What does a typical day look like in the residential treatment program?
Each unit creates a daily schedule that best fits with the current needs of the youth. An example of a daily schedule during the school year would include the following: The morning includes youth completing hygiene routines, breakfast and departing for school, if attending an Anchorage School District classroom. Youth would return from school either at lunch time or at the end of the school day (depending on youth’s educational needs). The afternoon includes structured activities which may include the following: recreation classes, groups facilitated by therapeutic staff, quiet time for the youth, treatment work time, activities off campus, and voluntary spiritual life activities. Youth assist with completing chores in the cottage to support the community living environment. Dinner is provided, and then evening activities include more structured activities prior to bed time. Each youth receives individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy on a weekly basis with their assigned clinical therapist.
What services does the residential treatment program include?
The treatment program includes, but is not limited to, the following: individual, group and family therapy on a weekly basis by a Master’s-educated clinical therapist; nursing services by registered nurses with oversight of a medical director; milieu therapy which includes structure activities; individualized treatment work for youth; recreation therapy; voluntary spiritual life activities; and educational support.
How frequently can I visit my child while in residential treatment?
Parents are encouraged to visit to support the youth through treatment. Each cottage establishes guidelines around visits. These guidelines have been developed to support the youth’s treatment and also the daily schedule in the cottage. Visitors are encouraged to arrange their visits in advance to ensure the youth will be available and to minimize disruption to the treatment schedule.
I’m worried about my child picking up behaviors from other children, would that happen there?
Social learning often occurs as teenagers develop independence from parents / caregivers. Our hope is that pro-social, positive behaviors are what teenagers learn from each other, both in the community and at AK Child & Family. However, at times teenagers may learn negative behaviors from other peers. The direct-care staff, clinical therapist, supervisor, and other AK Child & Family staff work with the youth to help them make positive choices especially when exposed to other youth’s behaviors.
What schooling options are available?
Community Programs (Treatment Foster Care, Group Home and Home-Based Programs): These programs are all community based and therefore every effort is made to maintain stability in the youth’s current school setting whenever possible. If a student has been enrolled in alternative school programming such as home schooling, charter schools or vocational programs, these may be continued if the family / treatment team determines that the alternative school programming best meets the needs of the youth. In some cases, academic testing or tutoring may also be recommended.
Residential Treatment: The decision on specific school placement is individualized for each youth. Depending on the needs of the youth, they may attend an Anchorage School District self-contained classroom, may attend one of our neighborhood public schools, or may be enrolled in a home school program at AK Child & Family. At times, transportation issues can limit the school options available to youth and therefore school placement is determined by a balance of both practicality as well as what best serves the needs of the child.
We have a vacation planned in the next few months. Could my child go on the vacation with us and then return to treatment?
Placing your child in a long-term treatment program is a very difficult decision. However, we know that these decisions are made based on significant challenges the children have faced over an extended period of time. While treatment may mean that they will miss some of the other opportunities in life during the treatment stay, our goal is to bring them to a point in their treatment process where they will be able to leave our program and not miss any further opportunities that they are presented with. Medicaid criteria for treatment within our residential, therapeutic foster care, and group home programs identifies that ongoing monitoring of the child and provision of care is necessary for continued authorization of treatment. An extended period of leave, such as a vacation, would require AK Child & Family discharging the child from our care. Upon return from the vacation, the child could be re-evaluated and re-considered for our treatment programs but their re-admission would be subject to Medicaid criteria and program availability for the particular treatment program.
My child has some dietary restrictions and / or allergies. Can you accommodate?
Our admissions department will ask about allergies, sensitivities and any required dietary restrictions during the time of initial assessment. We are able to accommodate the most common dietary restrictions with consultation and support from our nurses and contract dietician (in residential) or outside medical providers and dieticians as needed (for Community Programs). If additional education and support is needed regarding dietary restrictions or health education for a particular youth, a related goal will likely be added to the treatment plan.
If your child has allergies, the nature, severity and medical care needed for the allergies will be considered during the assessment. Primary concerns will include whether the program structure is able to ensure medical safety and monitoring for the specific allergy.
My child participates in band and after school sports. Are they allowed to keep doing that?
Because treatment is individualized and each youth’s needs and situation is different, this answer can vary from student to student. Specifics for each youth will be discussed with the family and assigned treatment team to determine what makes the most sense. Whenever possible within the parameters of the treatment schedule, AK Child & Family will encourage youth to develop and continue healthy, age appropriate activities, while also assessing and keeping in mind any potential risk factors, safety concerns and overall psychiatric stability.
My child has siblings and a pet, how can he / she stay in contact with them?
The clinical therapist will work with parents / guardians and youth to develop and a maintain a contact list of individuals the youth is allowed to have communication with while in treatment. Youth are encouraged to maintain contact with family members, including siblings, and especially individuals who can be a support system or involved in youth’s life after discharge. AK Child & Family does not allow family pets in the cottage, although there are select cottages on both the Maplewood and Jesse Lee campuses that do have fresh water fish tanks for the youth to enjoy. The fish tanks are maintained only by AK Child & Family staff. Parents and youth are encouraged to talk to the assigned clinical therapist on ways the student can maintain contact with family pets.
What if my insurance won’t cover the treatment?
Children who enter AK Child & Family Residential treatment services and / or Treatment Foster Care qualify for Medicaid coverage so long as their guardians are not declaring them as dependents during the tax year that they are Medicaid eligible. Medicaid is the payor of last resort (private insurance, if available, must be billed first as the primary), however, Medicaid will cover the balance of any amount not covered by private insurance.
For children entering AK Child & Family Home-Based Services who are not eligible for Medicaid, and from whom private insurance does not cover the cost of care, AK Child & Family has a sliding scale fee structure available through our Finance Department as well as a scholarship program called Partnership in Care that may cover a limited portion of the costs.
AK Child & Family have personnel available to review the benefits of your insurance as well as advocate for coverage on your child’s behalf. For more information on these other available coverage options, please feel free to contact your assigned care provider within our agency and / or the Director of Admissions.
Can I take a tour of the facility?
A tour of either of our residential campuses can be arranged through the Admissions Department.
My child has had problems with using the internet appropriately. What are your policies / safeguards around this?
The computers that the students use have internet restrictions on them to safeguard them from going to inappropriate sites. A staff member will supervise students while using the internet for therapeutic or other purposes. Residential has a policy called “Electronics and Internet Usage” that addresses this and other related issues.