As Minneapolis Public Schools teachers and students return from their spring break, we want to spotlight a service that endures all year long: Catholic Charities Children’s Day Treatment.
Day Treatment is a program for youth 1st through 8th grade who exhibit such significant behavioral concerns that a traditional school setting is not conducive to their learning. While they are capable of academic success, something is getting in the way. “It’s often stress, difficulty managing big emotions and relationships, and it’s challenging for these students to pay attention and focus because they’re already dealing with so much,” says Children’s Day Treatment Director Kris Hennelly. In this full-day program, youth receive both treatment and school. While the older program participants are learning with Minneapolis Public School teachers in the morning, the younger students practice skills in outpatient treatment with Catholic Charities’ therapeutic team, switching midday. Each classroom has about 6-7 students with 2-3 adults ready to support them.
The stigma attached to treatment can make the idea of this program scary — but day treatment aims to teach prosocial behaviors by focusing on 12 core skill areas, including communication, boundaries, and conflict management. Youth are provided with group therapy every day, individual therapy every week, and family therapy every other week. Generally, students commit to the program for a year, but their discharge is entirely dependent on their progress in these skill areas.
“Many of the kids we serve have trauma and/or complex trauma, meaning that the trauma occurred with their primary caregiver. When this happens at a young age, sometimes the trauma is intertwined with their development. This affects the way a child thinks about themselves and others, the way they perceive situations, and manage everyday experiences,” says Kris. “When our kids don’t receive the support they need, they may struggle in school, home, and the community. They get suspended from schools and there may be additional family stress. Communities’ responses can be less than empathic — even harmful — reinforcing our children’s negative views of themselves and others. Our goal in day treatment is to be a healing center for our children, to shed light on the beauty and goodness in each of them, and to help them learn about themselves and build healthy relationships.”
The Children’s Day Treatment program continues to serve youth daily, including during the pandemic. The program runs throughout the summer and over spring and winter breaks, too. We are so grateful for the work of those at Children’s Day Treatment in supporting the most vulnerable youth in our communities. If you’d like to support the potential of young people, please visit our giving page to donate!