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In Crossnore’s Day Treatment program, we provide mental health services to students who have been unsuccessful in a traditional learning environment and have been placed in an alternative learning environment at Kingswood School. As a member of the Day Treatment staff, I am able to see, every day, the work my team does, and the work our children do, to move toward greatness. Through our work, we get an inside view of our students’ growth, and are very hopeful for their futures.

The population that we serve, on the larger scale, comes with many challenges. Some of these challenges may include influences of the community they live in, their socioeconomic status, access to resources, or access to meaningful relationships. As staff, we really have to dive into the “whole” child before we can even begin to address, “what brought them here,” as our clinicians would say.

Working with a staff who really cares.

I have the privilege of knowing and working with so many staff members who care wholeheartedly about these kids. They care about where they come from and what they are facing. They care about violence in the neighborhood the night before, dinner being provided, a warm bath and bed being available, or if the child has a family member that has even said “Good morning” to them before they head to school.

While in our program, students have access to individual, family, and group therapy, as well as medication management, if needed. Each client is assigned a therapist and case manager who serve as members of their treatment team, along with their teachers, Day Treatment counselors, and, of course, their families. As part of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, these students are given a 45-day minimum to be able to improve criteria for success, such as grades, attendance, and behavior. We collaborate with the school daily and operate by the mantra “Better Together” to ensure that, as partners, we are setting the student up for future success. Our hope is that soon these kids will be able to fully transition back to their home school with academic and emotional success.

Year round programming.

The service that we provide in Day Treatment goes beyond the school year, as we also offer a summer program for participating clients. During the Summer Enrichment Program, we really hone in on providing the clients with practical tools to store in their toolbox throughout the school year and even in their day-to-day lives. The Summer Program is also such a great way to get to know our children better and to make one-on-one connections. And even though it’s ultimately about treatment, we manage to have lots of fun with our clients in the process!

During the summer, we offer incentive-based field trips every Friday that include places like Surge Trampoline Park, Celebration Station, and even Tiger World. These are just the some of the trips that allow our clients to “let loose” at the end of each week. All summer, the staff builds up the students’ excitement for our field day at the conclusion of the program. Our field day is always a BIG deal to us, as we offer food, fun, games, inflatables, and backpack giveaways. This fun-filled day typically ends with staff saying goodbye to the clients with hundreds of water balloons! It’s a favorite day for all of us.

The measure of true success.

We have seen many kids leave the Day Treatment program, successfully, who entered with little to no hope for themselves or their future. Our favorite successes are those who know the challenges they carry, carry them on their backs daily, and allow us to help them unpack their own bag. We love to celebrate our client successes through many different avenues, from group celebrations to “Fun Fridays,” and even award ceremonies at the end of each quarter. Returning to the traditional school environment AND completing Day Treatment successfully are HUGE accomplishments to us and to them! We ensure that they are celebrated and recognized for the hard work that they have done, not only to have mastered their behavioral goals, but to improve their success as students.

Working in this program has taught me so much. I have a bigger heart and more patience than I knew! I have learned to look at the whole child before diving into their challenges. This job has also taught me that I want to help everyone in any way that I can. I have always said that I wanted to buy a mansion and put kids in it, but as I continue to work here daily, I see that happening already. These are all “our” kids, and we are helping them build their own mansions.

A love they can understand.

I have also learned how to care for these children at a level that they can understand. Some of our kids find our care to be strange or abnormal, so they rebel against it. Initially, they cannot fathom that someone could possibly love them in spite of their verbal aggression, defiance, persistent opposition, or inattentiveness. Before long, they soon see that it is possible, and our love turns into motivation and self-love.

Our kids grow to learn that they have adults they can trust. They learn they can come to those who have walked in their shoes and understand their struggle. From this, our team is able to instill hope into the lives of youth who have grown up with limited success. Upon leaving, hopefully they have discovered that they can write their own success stories!