Located in Mansfield, Ohio, about 80 miles from Cleveland, Foundations for Living is a residential treatment center for young people between the ages of 11 and 17 years who are struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. For more than 20 years, it has been providing help for kids and parents in the serene setting of 14 forested Ohio acres.
Accommodations and Food
Foundations for Living is at the end of a two-mile, tree-lined road, its two brick buildings resembling schoolhouses. The three-story structure houses the clients and the single-story building has administrative offices and recreation rooms. The residential facility accommodates 84 clients in total. There are four units for girls and two for boys, with an average of 12 kids per unit. Males and females are separated throughout treatment, with the exception of outings. Girls are on the second floor and boys on the third.
While the exterior of the residential facility looks homey, the interior is a hospital setting, with long corridors and linoleum floors. The good news is that all rooms are brightly decorated, the walls adorned with artwork. Rooms are double occupancy and furnished with twin beds, dressers, a desk, bulletin boards and individual closets. The wood furniture and sunny décor make for a comfortable atmosphere. Each unit has four locked bathrooms; use of the bathrooms is monitored because many of these kids have issues with self-harm and eating disorders.
The cafeteria is on the first floor, along with therapy rooms and the nurse’s station. Food is served cafeteria-style three times per day with a salad bar at lunch and an afternoon fruit snack. A licensed dietitian prepares all meals and special dietary requests can be accommodated. Caffeine and sugar are not permitted.
Males and females are strictly prohibited from communication. While computers are used for school, there is no Internet access. Phone calls to family members are allowed once a client reaches the third phase of treatment. All residents are responsible for cleaning their rooms and doing their own laundry.
Treatment and Staff
Typically, residential treatment lasts four months, with some clients staying as long as two years. While there is a 45-day short-term program, it is generally geared toward very specific cases based on the diagnosis at assessment. If necessary, a Valium detox is offered and monitored by a registered nurse and a physician. The entire treatment team specializes in adolescent care, using a CBT-based approach in combination with neurofeedback, biofeedback and trauma therapy.
As school is mandatory for all residents, Foundations for Living provides an accredited on-site curriculum with certified teachers for all essential middle school and high school subjects. With block scheduling and year-round classes, clients can stay current with school and also recover any credits they may be lacking due to truancy. Classes are traditionally designed with live teacher instruction, smart boards, computers and small class sizes.
The typical weekday begins with breakfast at 6 am. School is from 7 am until 2 pm, with lunch at noon. When classes end at 2 pm, the kids have 30 minutes of free time until group starts. There are three group sessions per day and while schedules vary, groups focus on substance abuse education, addiction studies, peer pressure, process group and goals groups. Art and music therapy are twice weekly. A therapist facilitates all groups with a maximum of 10 participants each. Every client has individual therapy once a week for 60 minutes and residents on medication see a psychiatrist twice a month. Evenings consist of game night or TV, with Tuesday nights reserved for an AA meeting.
All clients are placed in the first of six levels when they begin treatment. They progress through the levels based on demonstrating good leadership and responsibility. Once clients reach level four, they can go out on a three-hour day pass with family members, if the treatment team approves. Level five and six clients are allowed an eight-hour day pass on Saturday or Sunday. The facility offers special outings for level four, five and six residents, which include day trips to theme parks, movies, restaurants, bowling and miniature golf. The kids also get points for doing things well. Points can be redeemed in the “Incentive Store,” where they can purchase items such as t-shirts, makeup and CD players. Once a month the facility, has an awards banquet and all units attend. The banquet honors all residents who have achieved goals set by therapists and those who have accumulated the most incentive points.
There are three nurses on the unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Six Master’s-level therapists, two psychiatrists and an MD are on-site, Monday through Friday. Each unit has two youth care specialists (similar to technicians) who ensure clients are attending groups, getting to meals and following protocol. The staff-to-client ratio is a respectable one-to-six.
Foundations for Living provides a variety of amenities and incentives to enrich the youth’s treatment period. On-site schooling, a beauty/barber shop, fitness and recreation center, library and a creative arts and music production studio are among the few. Young clients also have the ability to participate in off-site activities such as trips to local parks, movies, the zoo and community events. All services are included in the initial treatment cost.
Foundations for Living offers innovative, evidence-based treatment. By closely monitoring clients, who often have serious psychiatric issues, the staff does its best to provide a safe place to heal. For parents thinking of self-referring their children, it should be noted that most of these kids are court-ordered. Still, this could be the place for kids with co-occurring disorders who need long-term, tight security and highly scrutinized care. There are lots of things to do here other than get sober; important for any population, but especially for young people.
Foundations for Living
1451 Lucas Rd
Mansfield, OH 44903
Foundations for Living Cost: $14,265 (45 days). Reach Foundations for Living by phone at (419) 589-5511 or by email.
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