While many facilities boast a long tenure of service, few can match the legacy of AK Child and Family which dates its inception back to 1890 when it was founded as the Jesse Lee Home, a Methodist Mission house which provided housing for Alaskan children. Today, the facility, which has undergone several name changes and location shifts, is located in Anchorage and provides residential mental health services to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 in addition to a therapeutic foster care placement program, which places at-risk adolescents into local homes and offers counseling services on an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) basis.
Accommodations and Food
AK Child and Family maintains two separate, nearby facilities in Anchorage which separate clients by gender. Each facility mirrors the other, with cottage house-style housing, on-campus classrooms and therapy centers. On the girl’s side, there are three different cottage houses, with seven residents in each house. The girls share rooms, except for one single bedroom in each cottage, which is typically offered to a newcomer while they are adjusting to the program. There is a shared, private bathroom in each house. On the boy’s side, there are four larger cottages, with no more than nine clients in each, with two single rooms in each cottage and a shared bathrooms. All housing comes with twin beds and basic furnishings.
Cooking is provided by the staff in each cottage, with food purchased at a local Safeway or Costco. There is a nutritionist on staff and clients are encouraged to make their own suggestions for the menu. Each house comes with a kitchen as well as a living room common area where residents participate in recreational activities; staff members are dedicated solely to making sure exercise and excursions are organized each week. AK Child and Family has an indoor gymnasium, where residents participate in supervised group sports like basketball, football and lacrosse. Clients can also enjoy weekly trips into the Anchorage community where they go swimming and bowling. In the winter, yoga and movie nights are held in client’s cottages.
Treatment and Staff
A client’s daily schedule at AK Child and Family begins with morning and afternoon classes in Anchorage school district certified classrooms on campus. AK Child and Family staffs two special-ed certified Anchorage school district teachers and a teaching assistant. Most clients attend classes until lunch and begin group and individual therapy in the afternoon, with regular individual and family counseling factored in. Evenings are typically spent on homework or on-site recreational activities such as yoga or organized sports or trips into the local community. Given their low client rolls—no more than 36 boys and 21 girls at a time—the atmosphere at AK Child and Family lends itself to a fair amount of individual care.
AK Child and Family is not officially a dual diagnosis facility, though it does work to address substance abuse issues. In short, if a client’s primary issue is substance abuse they would be better served at another facility. Given this, it should be no surprise that there is no medical detox offered.
The facility has a psychiatrist on staff, who handles all medication management and oversees each person’s individual program, as well as a 24/7 nursing staff. Residents’ weekly individual and family counseling sessions are held by staff members with a Master’s-level certification in social work. There are also day-to-day staff members who handle recreation, housing supervision and team leading, all of whom have at least a Bachelor’s degree.
The average length of stay for clients attending AK Child and Family’s residential program is seven to eight months, while the foster care outpatient program usually lasts six months to a year.
AK Child and Family has multi-tiered levels of aftercare. Residents exiting the inpatient program who may be facing an unstable home environment can enter the foster care outpatient program. This places adolescents in the care of participating families in the community who assist them in attending group therapy sessions at the AK Child and Family Center several times a week. Clients whose families have played an active role in their recovery will return home and be assigned a case manager as part of AK Child and Family’s “wraparound” program which offers families continuing counseling services and resources.
In addition to their impressive history, AK Child and Family offers a program anchored to modern considerations, such as daily recreation, healthy eating options and treatment strategies. With a community feel to their housing facilities, residents are enveloped in an environment dedicated to their recovery. Furthermore, AK Child and Family offers an adaptable sliding scale payment plan for low income families, making them an affordable and reliable choice.
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