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Therapeutic Day School to Accommodate Covington Students Previously Sent to Alternative School

In a strategic endeavor to marry traditional academic services with behavioral/ mental health treatment for adolescents, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK) is partnering with Covington Independent Public Schools (CIPS) to launch a therapeutic day school this academic year. The day school, housed in the newly renovated historic administration building of CHNK’s Covington campus, provides services for youth who would previously have found themselves in the school district’s alternative school.

“There’s a growing at-risk population of students who struggle in a traditional school setting due to behavioral issues,” said Rick Wurth, CHNK chief executive officer, in an announcement. “A therapeutic day school on CHNK’s campus will give these students access to an array of treatment services that will help them better navigate both the school day and their home life.”

Such services include individual and group therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, recreational therapy, substance use disorders treatment, and family therapy. Throughout the school day, CHNK supplies trained therapists to treat students in need of therapeutic interventions, including emotional stabilization and verbal de-escalation.

Students placed in alternative school settings often have high rates of traumatic histories and frequently experiment with drugs and alcohol. They may come from abusive environments outside of the school setting or have limited resources in their homes to meet their needs or the needs of their families.

"We’re excited about this opportunity for our at-risk students," said Ken Kippenbrock, director of pupil personnel for Covington Independent Public Schools. "This partnership with Children's Home of Northern Kentucky continues our relationship, one in which CHNK continually moves mountains and removes barriers for our children."

While there are other types of therapeutic day schools in Kentucky, none are similar to the model being adopted by CIPS and CHNK.  Presently, models exist for youth who have already experienced court/judicial involvement, such as with the Department of Juvenile Justice, or have been placed into out-of-home care under the auspices of the Department for Community-Based Services. The endeavor at CHNK is a more proactive approach that brings services to at-risk youth even before there has been an opportunity for such involvement. The therapeutic day school also features two self-contained classrooms for use by CHNK’s clients in residential treatment.

“Our goal is to integrate services across systems – specifically, the educational and behavioral/ mental health systems – to create a more efficient and coordinated approach for impacting at-risk youth,” said Wurth. “If we can reduce the barriers to success that students in our target population face, we expect to see fewer incarcerations, fewer removals of children into state custody, fewer psychiatric hospitalizations, and the saving of thousands – if not eventually, millions – in taxpayer dollars, while simultaneously improving individual and family functioning.”

CHNK’s administration building, built in 1925, underwent months of extensive renovation to prepare it for the needs of the therapeutic day school. The school occupies the lower level and first floor of the building, with CHNK’s administrative offices moving to the second and third floors. The renovations include the latest in technology innovations, in addition to classrooms, a computer lab, and a student learning kitchen. A fire suppression system is being added throughout the building, as well as an elevator servicing all four floors of the building, wheelchair-accessible ramps, and ADA-compliant restrooms.

Classes in the new therapeutic day school officially began last Tuesday.

"Covington Independent is committed to providing a quality education to the most vulnerable students in our community,” shared Kippenbrock. “The Covington Board of Education demonstrates this commitment by providing excellent teachers, administrators, and support staff assigned to a variety of Alternative Programs. We now have the therapeutic services and facility to match this commitment to quality."

-Staff report

Photo: Children's Home of Northern Kentucky