Awaken360 seeks to bridge a very wide gap in treatment that currently limits members of not only the local community but the nation’s youth.
For families seeking therapy for their youth’s behavioral or life-controlling issues, they are restricted to primarily three different options:
outpatient counseling where the client receives therapy one hour a week
acute placement where the client will be under 24/7 monitoring for approximately 3-30 days
residential placement where the client will live under 24/7 supervision for approximately 4 months to up to 2 years.
We do acknowledge that these options are sometimes the correct and appropriate choice for treatment. However, Awaken360 Academy is the middle ground option that is missing and desperately needed.
A youth who is dealing with issues that have escalated beyond the scope of outpatient therapy (the first option listed), but does not yet require more invasive forms of treatment (the second or third option listed), can find the right level of treatment they need in a treatment center that incorporates their current support systems (their family and community) while introducing them to other facets of support. They will get the intensive levels of psychological support and intervention without being removed from their home, community, or family.
The outcome will be students who have been radically transformed, awakened, and empowered. Students will go from being stuck in negative established cycles, to a healthy, new life that brings peace and freedom.
Founder & CEO Heather Freeman is a licensed professional counselor and has held other positions in the mental health field. Freeman understands how insurance companies and mental health providers work together to get care to each client. Unless a provider is offering their services pro bono, a clinician or center has to review the request for admission to their site prior to admitting a person to their program.
Admission into a program is not usually difficult if a person is seeking the appropriate level of treatment for his or her struggles. However, continuing to qualify for the appropriate amount of treatment is a different story entirely.
When a client is admitted to a program, that program may be set up to take approximately 4-6 months to progress through all levels of treatment and to adequately address the concerns and risks identified in the client’s life.
This does not mean that the client’s insurance is agreeing to support this amount of time.
As a clinician previously working in a residential treatment center, Freeman became aware of how much time in treatment an insurance program was expected to approve for a client.
Usually, this didn’t vary too much for clients unless the circumstances were severe. For private insurance, it was typical for a client to get approved for 30 days maximum no matter the severity of the struggles for which they were admitted.
The moment the client showed they were no longer a risk for suicidal or homicidal tendencies, the insurance company, Medicaid, or Tricare would usually start making requests for the client's discharge.
At first glance, this doesn't seem like an issue. After all, no one wants to keep an individual in the most invasive form of treatment any longer than needed.
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
HOWEVER, 30 days or less is not usually the appropriate amount of time needed to adequately address deep-seated issues that took years to develop in a client’s life. When there is no step-down or next steps option for care available to the client, the likelihood for relapse into high-risk behavior is imminent.
In an acute setting, these clients are sometimes referred to as “return guests” because they come into treatment for a few days, get stabilized, and then discharged due to insurance. They would return within a week, having gone home and acted out again. Some families are able to pay out-of-pocket when they've reached the limit by their insurance, but other families cannot afford it.
These are other issues that the Awaken360 Academy will address. Awaken360 will offer step-down services to those who have completed treatment at an acute or residential center; Awaken360 would provide more intensive levels of treatment without the 24/7 supervision. Because we're a nonprofit, community support and financial donations will enable us to help families have access to treatment that was not covered by insurance or that they could not afford.
The Ozarks need a program like Awaken360.
RESEARCH & STATS
According to an article with the National Public Radio, “in a 2010 review of 115 studies that spanned 33 countries across the developed and developing worlds, nearly 80% of the studies showed that poverty comes with higher rates of mental illness. Among those living in poverty, those studies found, mental illnesses were more severe and lasted longer and had worse outcomes.”
According to the WHO, “an overwhelming majority of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are living in poverty.”
Rates of poverty in Springfield, Missouri are at 25.7% according to datausa.io and are consistently identified as a red flag issue in the Community Focus Reports from (2004-2017). Red flag issues in the 2017 Community Focus Reports were the number of school expulsions (2x the state average and 17x the national average) as well as the number of verified hotline reports of child abuse (384 victims/year, also above the state average). These issues are often hand-in-hand. and we are seeing that play out currently in our community as evidenced in the growing number of Medicare beneficiaries battling depression, now at 20.5%.
According to No Place for Kids, The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration, a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2011):
“Though juvenile violent crime arrest rates are only marginally higher in the United States than in many other nations, a recently published international comparison found that America’s youth custody rate was 336 of every 100,000 youth in 2002—nearly five times the rate of the next highest nation.”(p.2)
“But the largest share of committed youth—about 40% of the total—are held in locked long-term youth correctional facilities operated primarily by state governments or by private firms under contract to states.” (p.2)
“States continuing reliance on these institutions has been abetted by a lack of proven alternatives: if not correctional confinement for youthful offenders, what?" (p.2)
In most states, the re-arrest rates are catastrophic and proof of the ineffectiveness of our current model, although Missouri has been in the forefront of making changes to address these issues. In most states, as many as 70 to 80percent of youths released from residential corrections programs are re-arrested within two or three years.
Missouri has been able to reduce theirs to 16.2 percent which is amazing, however when it comes to our children, still too high. (p.10)
According to Judge David Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Fact Sheet: Children in Residential Treatment Centers,
“The number of children placed in residential treatment centers (or RTCs) is growing exponentially. These centers now house over 50,000 children nationwide…Once placed, these kids may have little contact with their families or friends for up to two years. By funneling children with mental illnesses into the RTC system, states fail—at enormous cost—to provide more effective community-based mental health services.
RTCs are among the most restrictive mental health services and, as such, should be reserved for children whose dangerous behavior cannot be controlled except in a secure setting. Too often, however, children are hastily placed in RTCs because more appropriate community-based services have not been available. Parents who are desperate to meet their kids’ needs often turn to RTCs because they lack viable alternatives. Often times parents and outpatient therapists can see problems arising in a youth before they reach a severity requiring an RTC or acute placement but are unable to offer meaningful intervention due to a lack of community resource.
Out of desperation and lack of options, children are placed at a great distance from their homes. For example, most District of Columbia children in RTCs are placed outside the District—many as far away as
Utah and Minnesota. Many families, especially those with limited means, find it impossible to have any meaningful visitation with their children.”
It is clear that not only is another mode of treatment needed and necessary but is being longed for by professionals who are dedicated to bettering the lives of others. Awaken360 is not just an intervention for after a teen has experienced problems or acted out negatively, but we provide a way to prevent those problems from becoming major issues that keep teens from fulfilling the purpose God planned for their life.
Awaken360 will offer a preventative measure for students needing more invasive forms of treatment. We will also be a step-down plan for treatment of teens leaving acute or residential treatment centers. Our goal will be to further their treatment to help prevent them from having to return to a residential setting.