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Critical Factors in Your Therapeutic Boarding School Decision

therapeutic boarding schoolIf you're considering therapeutic boarding school for your child, you've probably already thought about a variety of issues, such as program content, length, and cost. But there are other, lesser-known considerations to factor into your decision. Review these critical issues so that you can choose the best therapeutic boarding school for your child and for your family.

Reputation and Credentials
The best therapeutic boarding schools are properly licensed and/or accredited to educate and care for your child. All school employees should have background checks as well as a specified level of education, training, and experience. Do your homework, then double-check your findings by inquiring with the local police or the state office of the attorney general for reports of neglect or abuse at the school. It never hurts to be vigilant in your therapeutic boarding school research.

Philosophy of Education and Therapy
Many therapeutic boarding schools provide a positive, nurturing environment for learning and rehabilitation. Others take the traditional boot-camp approach of harsh treatment and deprivation to whip kids into shape. Though the tough approach might be tempting, the former has proven to be a much more effective means of producing lasting change. Talk with program directors to learn about their philosophy of education and therapy to help you determine the best therapeutic boarding schools for your child.

Family Involvement
Some therapeutic boarding schools do not permit parents to speak with or visit their child for a prescribed period of time. All schools should allow you to speak with your child after 30 days and visit him or her after three months. If you are uncomfortable with a school's imposed length of separation, look for one with different policies. Family counseling and involvement is as critical to your child's wellness as is his or her own therapy.

Age of Majority
The age of majority is the chronological age at which a person is no longer considered a minor. The legal age of majority in all but four states is 18. (In Alabama and Nebraska it's 19, and in Mississippi and Pennsylvania it's 21.) So in 46 states, 18-year-olds may choose to leave school without their parents' consent. And at some schools that require students to sign a consent form to attend, the students then retain the right to sign themselves out or just leave. The school does not have the power to stop them, even if they're minors. If you want to ensure that your child cannot leave therapeutic boarding school without your consent, make it a point to discuss the issue with each school you're considering.

Domestic vs. International
Therapeutic boarding schools overseas may offer excellent programs, but sending your child out of your own country's jurisdiction can be risky. Each school follows the laws of its particular country, not yours. That means the other country may not recognize your legal rights of guardianship, and there's not much you or your government can do about it. Exercise caution when sending your child overseas.

Therapeutic boarding schools should provide you with contact information for former students and their families. Ask to speak with students in similar situations to your child's so you can learn what life at the school and beyond is really like. All the promotional DVDs and brochures in the world can't provide the kind of information you'll get from talking with families who have been there.

With thoughtful investigation and careful consideration, your family can make a healthy, informed therapeutic boarding school decision. Good luck with your research!