In most communities, youth and young adults whose challenges put them at-risk of institutionalization receive assistance in one of two ways: they receive help in one of many community-based programs designed to meet a certain need, like substance abuse or anger management or they are removed from their homes and placed in a congregate care or secure confinement facility.
This means that youth or families in need are placed in program slots with pre-designed and pre-set treatments or curriculum. When their unique and complex needs are not met by these programs youth are often sent to residential treatment centers or secure facilities as a last resort. Their needs may not be met here either, and if they do improve, they return to a home and community that has not improved with them. As a result, youth often regress because they lack the appropriate family and neighborhood supports and services.
Youth with the most complex needs often don’t receive any help at all because most existing services, programs and even residential centers reject them, citing lack of capacity to serve them. When governments determine that a youth has needs that go beyond its capacity to serve them in state facilities, youth are often sent to private or public congregate care facilities in another state --sometimes very far away from their families --based on a mistaken belief that they have no other option.