Residential Treatment Services

With a goal of returning children to their families and communities, Sweetser’s Residential Treatment Services offer intensive, out-of-home treatment for youth experiencing a mental and/or behavioral health diagnosis. All Sweetser residential treatment services are family-centered and focused on reunification of children, adolescents, and their families. Our shared goal with families is to utilize comprehensive, intensive, individualized treatment to replace self-destructive thoughts, behaviors, and emotions so a safe transition back to community, school, and family can occur successfully.

Our caring and compassionate staff are working on implementing best practices through Cornell University’s CARE (Children and Residential Experiences) program model based on the following principles:

Developmentally focused:  Strategies for change are more effective when they match the child’s present level of functioning. Children learn best when material and skills are presented that challenge the child to try new things, but do not overwhelm the child.

Family involved:  The family of every child in case is center to that child’s life. One of our primary goals is to strengthen family relationships.  Studies show clearly that involving a parent or other caring adult lead to more successful outcomes for children!

Relationship Based:  The most important task in residential work is for staff to develop a trusting relationship with each child in care. Nurturing caring experiences and basic attachments are necessary for children to grow into healthy adulthood.  Relationships also help increase direct care staff’s effectiveness in helping children learn interpersonal skills.

Competence Centered: Competence is the combination of skills, knowledge, and attitude that each child needs to negotiate effectively with everyday life.  All interactions and activities contribute to this learning in the residential setting.  Helping children to achieve personal goals and increasing their motivation to learn new skills are major tasks for care workers. 

Trauma informed:  All activities, routines, expectations and interactions are designed to take into account the impact of overwhelming stress and trauma on a child’s development. Staff shift their thinking from, “what is wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” Our milieu is focused on providing order and learning experiences rather than demanding compliance and control.

Ecologically oriented:  Caring and supportive environments provide children with a model of how to care for themselves and others.  When a child is not progressing, it is important to look at the child’s environment for a solution.  The two most critical aspects are the physical environment and the intentional activities.There is an intensive level of structure and supervision in the milieu to learn skills in the “here and now.” A safe environment is essential to the treatment work provided to the children, Staff is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and the CARE Model. This framework guides the work in all of our homes.

For more information, call the Sweetser PromiseLine toll-free at 1.800.434.3000 or via email at