How To Choose the Right School for a Troubled Teen

Choosing the right school for a troubled teen can be a difficult decision for parents during an equally difficult time. If you are searching for a school for your troubled teen, then you are probably already dealing with a lot of issues regarding your teen's mental and even physical health.

  1. Boarding School or Day School-One of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether to choose a boarding school or a day school for your troubled teen. A boarding school will mean that your child will become a resident of the school. Boarding schools for troubled teens often have limited visitations and set rules on how often a teen can even come home. In many cases, however, a boarding school is the right school for a troubled teen simply because living elsewhere separates the teen from an unhealthy environment. There are some day school choices in various areas of the country, and these schools usually involve in-depth counseling sessions and periodic meetings with the parents as well.

  • Cost-Because the majority of schools for troubled teens aren't publicly funded, the expenses of sending your child to a specialized school can be expensive. Your best bet is to look at the various schools you are interested in and ask for a schedule of related expenses. Be sure you find out all of the expenses, such as medical fees, meals, etc. You don't want to be hit with any hidden surprises just as it is time for your teen to enroll in his new school. In some cases, there may be funds available to help ease the expense of a private school somewhat. The school may offer various payment plans as well.
  • Visit the School-Plan on visiting several schools before making your decision. While you may need to set up an appointment to get a full tour, it might not be a bad idea to make an unannounced visit as well. You may be able to form an initial opinion based on this impromptu visit. You can then set up a more formal visit and view the facilities while touring the grounds of the school.
  • References-Be sure and ask for references that you can contact. Obviously, the school will only give out references of successful students and/or satisfied families, but you should be able to contact these families and then form your own opinions. If you know someone personally who has used this school's services, by all means contact them as well.
  • Focus-Be sure you find out the focus of the school. If your teen has a particular problem, such as alcohol or drug abuse, then it is important to find a school for your troubled teen that is equipped to handle his particular problems.
  • Faculty and Staff-One of the most important points to remember when searching for a school for your troubled teen is to check out the credentials and the background of the faculty and staff. What degrees do they hold? How much experience do they have? Are there counselors on hand every day? How are emergencies handled? What type of event would merit a call to parents? What is the basis for expulsion from the school? How is punishment handled? Before you make a decision regarding the right school for your troubled teen, be sure you get the answers to these and any other questions you might have.      
  • Role of the Teen-In some cases, your teen's input on  choosing the right school might be a step toward helping your teen with his problems. If he is allowed to help with the selection  of the school, then he might feel more invested in the overall goal of helping him feel mentally or physically better. Of course, this isn't always a good idea, and you may need to consult with a professional counselor or psychologist before asking for your teen's input.

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