Integrity House Bate Adolescent Program
Location: Newark, N.J.
Target population: Adolescent males ages 13 to 18
Quote: “Our clients are not going to leave us being perfect,” says program director Kristi Ellison. “All are referred to a lower level of care when they leave us.”
Integrity House's residential treatment program for adolescent males offers a classic example of moving from tragedy into triumph. The Bate program is named after a former Integrity House board chair who was stabbed to death on a visit to New York City. The endowment that was set up by his daughter after her father's death specified that the funds were to be used for adolescent services.
The program has been in existence since the early 1990s, a time when the organization began to perceive a community need for more intensive adolescent care. Today, polysubstance use is common in the population (marijuana remains a constant across the board), and family and peer relationships have been compromised.
“This population has not had a constant in its life,” says senior clinical director Emory Salley, LCSW, LCADC.
Bate program director Kristi Ellison, LCSW, credits the deliberate effort to keep the program small as a major advantage for the youths from a clinical standpoint. “Coming into residential treatment can be a big adjustment for a teenager,” she says.
The curriculum is diverse and strengths-based, with elements of trauma-informed care and experiential therapies. “We explore [patients'] motivation to change, not just probation telling them to change,” explains Integrity House president and CEO Robert Budsock.
Most of the program's referrals come from the justice system. All of the program's services are Medicaid-funded.
Besides striving for family reunification, the program emphasizes getting young people back on track academically. Its highly developed education department features year-round schooling and GED preparation, with certified teachers and a principal on staff.
Program leaders emphasize being nimble in responding to emerging needs. “We get to know our clients really well,” says Ellison. “At one point we had three clients who were fathers, and we said, 'We need to find something in our program for adolescents who are also fathers.'”
The program also benefits from a structure that allows for average lengths of stay of about five to seven months, which furthers successful implementation of a treatment plan that focuses on community reintegration. “We try to work on strengthening relationships,” Budsock says.