Onarga Academy is located about 90 miles south of Chicago in the small town of Onarga, Illinois. It provides residential treatment and transitional living for adolescent males, ages 11 to 21, dealing with substance abuse and trauma-based mental health issues. The 79-bed facility is divided into smaller, specialized programs that include the Chemical Health program as well as care for boys who have exhibited problematic sexual behaviors, family relationship issues, patterns of abusive behavior, lack of empathy and cognitive distortions.
Onarga Academy is part of Nexus Youth and Family Services, which started in 1972 under the name Port Alpha in downtown Minneapolis, providing long-term residential treatment for adult males. Today, Nexus is a non-profit organization headquartered in Plymouth, Minnesota, and has been providing youth and adolescent services for over 40 years. Nexus serves more than 700 youth a day from around the nation at five residential treatment sites in Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland.
Accommodations and Food
Onarga Academy is a sprawling campus, with several large brick buildings. Clients of the Chemical Health program live dorm-style, each in their own single-bedroom unit with bedding and toiletries provided. Up to eight transitional living clients reside in a separate facility on the campus and enjoy a more family-style atmosphere designed to facilitate peer support and the building of life skills, like cooking and cleaning. Nutritious meals are served three times a day in the cafeteria and healthy snacks are available as well.
Treatment and Staff
Onarga Academy residents typically stay between 12 and 18 months, but it really depends on the individual. The Chemical Health program targets boys, between the ages of 12 and 21, who need substance abuse treatment only, or residents who are also being treated for other issues at the facility. Addiction treatment is based on a comprehensive assessment of the client’s substance abuse, as set forth by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
Clients must attend at least one individual session a week. Group therapy takes place daily, for an average of eight to 10 hours a week, and clients can choose the classes they would like to take in addition to therapy. These include adolescent male development, trauma resolution and coping skills. A select group of therapists in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF–CBT) is trained to provide intensive trauma-specific treatment to youth. Family therapy may be facilitated via Skype/Facetime or phone, as well as in person. Onarga runs three on-site fully accredited year-round schools and academic credit can be transferred to other schools upon exiting. Guidance counseling is provided, as is vocational training.
When residents between the ages of 17 and 20 are ready to move to the next stage of treatment, they have the option to return home or apply for the Transitional Living Program. This is used as a safe place to begin a more independent lifestyle. Residents continue to get support in self-medication and emotional management. They learn about public transportation, money management, accessing medical services, cooking and build employment skills. Clients must attend high school or college and/or secure gainful employment while residing at the home.
The schedule includes structured and supervised recreational time. The recreation building provides a year-round indoor play area. Seasonal outdoor activities include basketball, sports events, rollerblading, volleyball, swimming, softball and football.
Through the vocational program, clients can seek employment at the Academy’s Cornerstone Café & Gallery, located in downtown Onarga. The high-tech industrial arts classroom includes a wash bay, oil change area and ample work space where students learn basic skills, such as the use of tools, home repairs, maintenance, woodworking and automotive technology.
Nexus also provides a number of family-centered, trauma-informed programs for youth with emotional and behavioral issues. The continuum of services includes residential treatment, psychiatric programs, group home living, transitional living, foster care, accredited schools, vocational training, children’s diagnostic treatment and independent living options, just to name a few.
Onarga Academy’s parent company, Nexus Youth and Family Services, has been around for more than 40 years and offers an impressive range of services for families and young people. Onarga Academy is a great resource for young men who need help with substance abuse and behavioral health issues. It boasts an impressive range of services to encourage young men to accept responsibility for their actions and offers the support necessary for them to move forward and make positive life choices.
110 N Locust St
Onarga, IL 60955
Onarga Academy Cost: Sliding scale; Medicaid available. Reach Onarga Academy by phone at (815) 268-4001 or by email at [email protected]. Find Onarga Academy on Facebook and Nexus Youth and Family Services on Twitter and LinkedIn
Do you have a complaint or review of Onarga Academy? Use the comments area below to add your review for Onarga Academy.