Program Spotlight

Program Spotlight: Structured Day

The Structured Day Program is an outpatient, day treatment program for youth in middle and high school with moderate to severe behavioral problems.  While enrolled, youth receive academic, psychiatric, individual and group counseling. Students receive full academic credit and transportation is provided.

Youth Focus is one of few nonprofit organizations that offer an alternative school environment where kids like Sam can continue their education while working on behavioral problems in a supervised environment.

Sam, a 13 year old in 7th grade, has been suspended from school 11 times for reasons ranging from disobedience in the classroom to vandalism of school property. The final straw for his school principal was a fist fight he instigated with a classmate during class instruction time. At their wit’s end, administrators were left no choice but to expel him from school and ban him from campus.

For kids like Sam, options are limited; how does he continue his education?

How do his parents or caretakers provide restorative ways to tame his temper? What, after all, is the root of his behavior? Youth Focus is one of few nonprofit organizations that offer an alternative school environment where kids like Sam can continue their education while working on behavioral problems in a supervised environment.

Mental health technicians are assigned to each middle and high school class, where they assist students to stay focused and on task, as well as encourage good behavior.

The Structured Day program is a day treatment program specifically designed for middle and high school students with moderate to severe behavioral problems. Many students like Sam who attend Structured Day have at least one diagnosis related to behavior, such as oppositional defiance disorder, ADHD, PTSD, or other various mood disorders. In Sam’s particular case, he struggles with a slight cognitive delay and learning challenges. Because he is also exposed to violence at home, he has not developed healthy coping skills. Coupled with oversized classrooms and more individualized needs, kids like Sam are often not given the attention they require to succeed academically, and therefore begin to disrupt the learning environment. They are often written off as ‘bad kids.’ While Individualized Education Plans are not required to attend Structured Day, a thorough, documented history of behavioral problems at the child’s home school is required for consideration for the program.

Sam just reached his first level 4 status, signifying good behavior and participation, and was able to go on a recent outing to the Science Center.

At Structured Day, students receive full academic credit while attending the program. In addition, they also receive group and individual counseling, as well as any psychiatric treatment. Attendance, behavior, and participation are tracked with a points system. Levels are reached as points accumulate, and rewards and privileges, such as outings, special snacks or candy, and gift cards are given as prizes. 

Sam’s success goes beyond earning points; he’s learning grade level academics in a small group setting with a qualified teacher, which enables him to retain the curriculum. He is also learning healthy ways to interact with other students rather than fighting or arguing. Mental health technicians are assigned to each middle and high school class, where they assist students to stay focused and on task, as well as encourage good behavior. These encouragements might include prompts or positive reinforcement, and techs are responsible for the points system in which the behavioral levels operate.

Sam hopes to return to his home school next year. His family, therapists, and teachers have worked closely with him to develop a plan that will bring him closer to that goal each week. While his home life has not improved, he is working on developing more constructive ways to cope with stress at home, and his behavior has reflected that effort while at the program each day. Not every day is perfect; recently he tried to instigate a fight with a new student at Structured Day. However, after a brief huddle with his mental heath tech and the assistant program director, he was able to re-join his class and finished out the rest of his day without incident. It was the first time that he was able to be verbally de-escalated before a fight occurred. Sam continues to make improvements each week, which puts him on track to return to his home school next year.

For more information on the Structured Day program at Youth Focus, click here.  

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Program Spotlight: Residential Treatment Center

It is 7am, and Sue has been awake for hours after waking from a nightmare. At Youth Focus’ Residential Treatment Center, she is supervised around the clock by specially trained staff. For the first time in her life she doesn’t feel alone when she wakes up with night terrors.

Sue is challenged with severe depression and bipolar disorder. Her chronic self-harming behavior, which included cutting her arms and legs, along with violent behavior towards her teachers and peers at school, led her to the RTC for supervised treatment. She has been to several group homes and different schools, and at her last group home she attempted suicide, and had to be physically restrained. A more intensive treatment program was required to meet her needs.

Sue looks forward to breakfast at RTC, she rarely ate well-rounded meals. Her daily medication is then given by the staff nurse, and she attends the center’s in-house school until lunchtime. After lunch, she heads to group activities, such as therapeutic yoga, diversity group, or peer government. She also makes her daily call to her mom to check in and say hello. After some quiet time, either reading or watching a movie, dinner is served. Chores are a mandatory part of living at RTC, and she spends some time folding towels before heading to her room to tidy up and get ready for bed. This kind of routine gives Sue stability and predictability, both of which decrease her anxiety and mood swings tremendously.

Sue’s behavior upon arrival to the RTC was combative, defiant, and unpredictable. She experienced extreme highs and lows due to her bipolar disorder, and the lows led to depressive and suicidal thoughts and ideation.

Within the first month arriving at the center, her incidents of suicidal behavior decreased significantly; Sue has not had an incident in weeks.

Her anticipated stay at RTC is six to ten months, at which time she hopes to be reunited with her family rather than moving to a group home. This would not have been possible before beginning treatment at RTC.

In addition to her decrease in suicidal thoughts and behavior, Sue has also become more sociable and now participates in group activities with enthusiasm. Her history with peers in the past was almost always defensive, or even aggressive, in nature stemming from her sense of abandonment relating to her troubled home life. When first arriving at the center, she isolated herself by sitting alone, refusing to participate in activities, and starting fights with other clients. Recently, however, she has been observed laughing and chatting with other clients during free time.

While every client’s story is different, and every treatment plan is customized for their particular needs, our hope is that all of our clients experience a level of success while under our care.

This is one of many success stories stemming from various programs offered by Youth Focus.  The Residential Treatment Center is our most intensive program, and clients live there during their treatment. These clients need the highest level of supervision and care.

The Youth Focus’ Residential Center is a 12 bed psychiatric residential treatment facility for male and female adolescents age 13 to 17. This program helps young people who suffer from severe emotional and/or behavioral problems and cannot be treated successfully through outpatient counseling, group home placement or other, non-secure methods.  Offering an on-site classroom and intensive individual, group and family therapy, Youth Focus’ Residential Center treats young people with depression, anxiety, severe stress, self-defeating behaviors, disorganized thinking, oppositional defiant behavior as well as other behavior and psychological issues.  If you feel that a child you know might benefit from our services, click here to learn more.

*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of our clients.

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Hope, Empowerment and Resiliency Through Housing

Youth Focus has a long history of providing services and support to youth, but what happens once they become adults and age out of programs offered to minors? With sparse offerings or programs that have no openings, long waiting lists or both, we decided to revamp a current transitional housing program we offer to encourage independence, with support and service offerings that cater to our clients as they become productive citizens in our community. Youth Focus is proud to roll out two new programs, called HEARTH: TLP and HEARTH: Permanent Supportive Housing.

HEARTH is an acronym standing for Hope Empowerment And Resiliency Through Housing

HEARTH was borne from our existing Transitional Living Program, which has recently approached the end of its five year grant cycle. Rather than offer a central living in a house in High Point where clients all lived together, we now offer a similar program with a clustered apartment model. Four apartments within close proximity, also located in High Point, are the new living spaces for eligible clients that need transitional living services, while offering a little more independence and privacy through a modified approach to transitional housing.

Our clients don’t have to go it alone with this new program; The HEARTH: TLP model offers a supervised support system. A nearby live-in staff member, along with a staffed office, are on hand to provide a degree of supervision and support as clients learn to budget, care for their own homes, acquire jobs or continue their education. In addition, clients will share their apartments with a roommate, splitting responsibilities and learning how to live more independently. In essence, the model mimics living in a college dorm. Clients get their own living space, and have a resident advisor available to them at all times in the same building. The transitional living program not only creates a level of accountability many clients still require as they navigate through young adulthood, but creates a wonderful ‘leg up’ they often need to help them achieve independent success. Once they have met their goals and criteria, clients can then move on from the program. With the help of their case worker, they acquire permanent housing of their choosing based on their specific criteria, or transition to another program depending on their needs. Clients eligible for HEARTH: TLP currently must be between 18-21 years of age.

Likewise, the HEARTH: Permanent Supportive Housing program offers scattered site apartments throughout Guilford County. Clients utilizing this program don’t need as much day-to-day supervision, but still require independent living support and rent assistance. The permanent support model also allows the client to lease an apartment in his/her name in an effort to help them build credit and learn financial responsibility, but with continued case management services targeted at building independent living skills. Upon ‘graduation’ from the program, the client can sustain the lease on the apartment and remain in their home as a permanent residence, taking over the payments and utilities. This is a rare opportunity for many clients! Qualified clients are between 18-25 years of age.

Both of these programs are part of Youth Focus’ Supportive Housing programs. The HEARTH Program Manager is Jonathan Mindas, and the Program Director is Sarah Roethlinger.

Learn More About HEARTH


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A month to focus on fighting for foster kids all year

Making sure that all children have a permanent and loving home is one of Youth Focus’ top priorities. And, since May is “National Foster Care Month,” what better time to have a conversation about this critical issue?

Child development experts agree that having a permanent home and family is key for a child to grow into a healthy and productive adult. When a child grows up in an environment with an adult who is committed to their long-term well-being and on whom they can depend, the child is simply in a better position to thrive.

Unfortunately, too many foster children lack this basic and stable environment to begin their lives and enter the foster care system because of parental abuse, neglect or abandonment. Removing a child from their home can be devastating and confusing for a child of any age, but the more a foster care child is moved within the system, the greater the chance that the child will lose contact with siblings, other family members, and other friends and adults who have been important in their lives—including neighbors, coaches and religious leaders.

Youth Focus works to find positive outcomes for every young person in foster care and to promote a successful transition to adulthood for older foster children who are becoming adults. Through reuniting foster children with their parents and working with guardians who are committed to caring for foster youth, we are finding successful ways to bring foster youth into stable homes where they have better chances of thriving.

Although we specifically recognize Foster Care Month during May, ensuring that all kids have a stable place to grow up is something that we are working on year round. We have made improvements for foster youth, but we still have much work to do to make sure these kids have the best possible life that they deserve.

Our future depends on it.

For more information about foster care, please click here.
For more information on becoming a foster parent, please click here.


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National Safe Place Week, March 19-25

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) is pleased to announce National Safe Place (NSP) Week, March 19-25, 2017 (#NSPWeek2017). This nationally recognized week shines a spotlight on Safe Place®, an outreach an prevention program for youth in crisis. NSP Week serves to recognize the many valued partners who work together to provide immediate help and safety for all young people. It is a time to acknowledge licensed Safe Place agencies, Safe Place locations and community partners, and volunteers. These individuals and groups are the pillars of strength that support the national safety net for youth. To learn more about #NSPWeek2017, please visit:

What is Safe Place?

Safe Place is a national outreach and prevention program for youth in crisis. Over 20,000 locations across the U.S. display the yellow and black Safe Place sign, the universal symbol of help and safety for all young people. Partnering youth-friendly businesses and community organizations, such as fast food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, schools, public transportation vehicles and libraries, connect youth in crisis with the local licensed Safe Place agency. Most licensed Safe Place agencies serve youth between the ages of 12 to 17 years old, although some agencies serve younger and older youth.


Safe Place began as an outreach program of the YMCA Shelter House in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983. Access to emergency counseling and shelter for youth was identified as a community need and the YMCA Shelter House found a way to address this issue with the creation of the Safe Place program.

How Safe Place Works

  1. A young person enters a Safe Place location and asks for help.
  2. The site employee finds a comfortable place for the youth to wait while they call the local Safe Place licensed agency.
  3. Within 20-30 minutes or less, a Safe Place representative will arrive to talk with the youth and, if necessary, provide transportation to the shelter for counseling, support, a place to stay or other resources.
  4.  Once at the Safe Place agency, counselors meet with the youth and provide support. Family Agency staff makes sure the youth and their families receive the help and professional services they need.

What is TXT 4 HELP?



A 24-hour, text-for-support service which provides access immediate help and safety for teens. Youth can text the word “SAFE”and their current location (address/city/state) to 69866 and receive a message with the name and address of the closest Safe Place location, as well as the number for the local youth shelter agency. Users also have the option to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help. The service is free, but regular text messaging rates will apply to the user’s phone bill.

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