The goal of the Alternative Learning Program (ALP) is to reduce recidivism rates by providing full-day educational and therapeutic services for middle and high school students (males and females).
Kickoff for the program was held on Thursday, March 16, at BCC’s Martinsburg campus (read the press release here). The event included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between all the partners as well as a roundtable discussion with attendees from various West Virginia state agencies.
This program is a public-private partnership between the Board of Child Care, Division of Juvenile Services (DJS), Berkeley County Schools (BCS), West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), and the Office of Diversion and Transition Program (ODTP).
The program is staffed to handle a maximum capacity of 17 students.
The idea for the program is to offer an expanded array of educational and therapeutic services not being delivered in the sixteen current Youth Reporting Centers (YRC) throughout the state of West Virginia. There are several key differences between the two program models.
First, youth in the ALP will attend BCC’s school on the Martinsburg campus (some but not all YRC programs provide educational services directly). The school is already serving the approximately 20 youth living in BCC’s residential program on the property. Its teachers (licensed and provided by WVDE) and its behavior support staff (trained and provided by BCC) are already familiar with the needs of youth who have experienced trauma, incarceration, or who have a mental health diagnosis.
The ALP will use existing staffing and classrooms within the school and will not require additional positions unless the program expands in size. BCC’s residential youth and the ALP day-students will learn together and will not be taught separately.
Secondly, the delivery of mental health services using an outpatient model is enhanced from what is currently available to this youth population. BCC’s licensed, masters-level clinicians will deliver supportive counseling services, individual therapy, and specialty therapy groups to address everything from substance abuse to coping with complex trauma.
Finally, the public-private partnership between the three WV state agencies and BCC will expand the ALP’s target population over what is typically served by a YRC. Referrals to the program are broken up into three segments or populations: probation officers and judges, Berkeley County Schools, and youth who are discharging from a WV residential treatment center.
- Probation officers can refer to this program and youth will be ordered into the program by a judge. This serves as an alternative sentence to incarceration, keeps a youth’s community supports and family nearby, and is much cheaper for the state of WV as incarceration is expensive.
- Berkeley County Schools will be able to refer youth to the program who have a mental health diagnosis. While these students are eager to learn and succeed they find the large, traditional public school setting difficult and would be better served in a smaller classroom. Again, this keeps the students local but provides them with the additional support they need to succeed.
- The third group are youth who were in residential placements in other parts of WV and are being discharged back to homes in the Berkeley County area. Instead of sending them home and back to public school immediately, they will return home and utilize the ALP to get more individualized attention and treatment services before transitioning to public school. The ALP is focused on reducing recidivism rates, and by including a step-down placement in the treatment plan of that youth provides more therapeutic supports around prior to their transition back to public school.
Victoria Brooks, LGSW
T: 304-274-1234 x3301
Faxed documents are accepted but not preferred.