For youth with severe behavioral problems who are part of Sheppard Pratt Health System’s residential programs, The Jefferson School and Mann Residential Treatment Center, integration back into the community at the completion of their individualized program is often times found to be difficult and draining for both youth and family. A 15-month, $440,000 grant from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has allowed the development and implementation of V.O.I.C.E.S. (Valuing Opportunity in Individualized Care by Empowering with Strengths), a program designed to provide individualized, culturally competent support to youth discharging from their residential care.
Recognizing the importance of moving back home and reintegrating one’s self into the community, the program aims to look at youth and family strengths, skills, culture and values to ensure a successful transition, utilizing a wraparound approach such as building lasting relationships with a transition team member, obtaining youth/family/caregiver input to establish access to resources in the community and providing ongoing support once they are no longer under the care of the residential team.
“The V.O.I.C.E.S. team is there for youth and families in those critical days and weeks after discharge,” said Lindsey Meekins, case management coordinator of V.O.I.C.E.S. “Each service we provide is unique to the individual in our program, whether it’s reaching out with a friendly text or phone call to give encouragement, helping locate food resources or taking some of the stress out of insurance or medication problems.”
The care and crisis plans are developed in the 90 days prior to discharge as part of the program by the therapist, case manager, youth, family and educational liaison. At the time of discharge, the V.O.I.C.E.S. team, with the support and guidance from discharging therapists, ensure discharge recommendations have been explored and are in place. The care and crisis plans are reviewed, the participant is issued an iPhone to maintain contact with the V.O.I.C.E.S. team, track appointments and utilize therapeutic applications and a trusted V.O.I.C.E.S. team member is available to accompany the youth to the discharge placement to ease additional concerns. Case managers will have frequent contact with the youth and family in the days following discharge and a participant can be seen in the V.O.I.C.E.S. program for up to nine months.