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How to Pay for Residential Treatment Centers

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Financial Resources for Residential Treatment Centers

Have you recently discovered the high costs of boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and/or other avenues of academic and emotional growth assistance?

For the average middle class family, the fees can be staggering. Even people of means may experience “sticker shock” at the tuition of these programs. Due to the extensive costs of operating specialty schools with the appropriate licenses, credentialed staff, and certified educational accreditation, it is extremely expensive.

The average cost of private therapeutic boarding schools and programs is approximately $7,000 per month and are generally not all-inclusive. There is usually a separate processing fee which can range from $2,500-$3,500 and normally covers insurances, administrative costs, and other various charges. Some programs will include the uniform in that fee. Other programs will have an additional fee for uniforms. When choosing a program, be sure to ask specifically what is included and what extra fees to expect. If a private program is less than $3,000 per month, please be sure to do your research.

Many programs offer a discount if tuition is paid up front. This is an individual decision which is dependent on your financial circumstances and family’s needs.

Educational Loans for Healthcare

Behavioral Health Loan Information

  • Lightstream Medical Loans Fixed rate, simple interest fully amortizing installment loans, no fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Prosper Lending Lends up to $35,000 for Health/Medical/Treatment at customized lending rates based on credit history, credit worthiness, and amount requested.
  • M-Lend Financial Options include interest free credit cards (at no additional costs) and low interest installment loans for various credit ratings up to 84 month terms and $100,000. Particularly for addiction treatment. With no interest charges for an extended period of time, this can be a welcome bridge to financing.
  • Cross Bank Medical Financing Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000. No loans are offered in Connecticut, New York, West Virginia and Vermont. An origination fee of 8% is included in the principal loan amount. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate. The APR offered to you will depend on such factors as your credit score, application information, loan amount, loan term, and credit history.

You can also ask the school or program you are considering if they have their own lenders.

College Funds

If a child has a college fund, it might be a good time to use it. Although we expect (or hope) our children will want to go to college, getting your teen the emotional help they need is imperative. Without having coping skills, mental health wellness and social stability – it will be extremely difficult for them to be successful in higher education – whether it’s college or a trade school.

If you have a 529 Plan, ask your financial advisor or accountant for more information about withdrawing funds.

When the time comes when they are ready for that step and you have exhausted your educational fund, there are always grants and scholarships for which to apply.

Individual Educational Plan (IEP)

Does your child have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) through your local school district? In some cases, this may defer some of your tuition costs in respect to the academic component of a boarding school or program. If you have an IEP in place for your child, it is important to ask the school or program you are considering if they work with IEPs and discuss the reimbursement process. For more information on IEPs, click here.

Home Equity Credit Line

Another alternative to financing a program is a Home Equity Credit Line. This can be beneficial to you in a few ways. Not only is a convenient way to access money that is needed, it can also be a tax deduction in regards to the interest payments. Please keep in mind, sometimes the program you are sending your child to can also be a tax deduction in regards to medical expenses. The therapeutic and medical portions of the tuition can usually be deducted. Check with your tax preparer or accountant for more information.

Credit Cards

Credit cards, though carrying a potentially high interest rate, may be able to provide you with the initial monies to enroll your child until you are able to access an educational loan, credit line, or other means of payment. Many parents will use a credit card which accumulates airline miles or other beneficial services and pay it off within the 28-30 days with their credit line or other financial means. This prevents you from incurring finance charges. It can also be a way to earn airline travel to use when it comes time to visit your child if they are out of state.

Medical Insurance

Contact your medical insurance provider to see if they cover residential placement. Some will cover the first 30 days or possibly the therapeutic portion of your child’s stay (generally one third of the tuition). PPO’s are typically more likely to cover some costs, however it never hurts to check with your insurance company.

In searching for programs, you may want to ask the program if they accept your insurance or have experience with how much you could expect from your specific insurance company.  Having them process a verification of benefits (VOB) prior you enrolling your child or signing any contacts can be helpful in giving you a better idea of what your insurance will cover.  Not all programs will do this, but a majority of them will.

Denials Management, Inc. or SJ Health Insurance Advocates  are insurance advocates that can help you fully investigate your potential insurance options. Contact them directly for more information.

Medicaid, HMO or Tricare Insurance

For families that have Medicaid, HMO or a Tricare health insurance policy, and you would like your medical benefits to cover your child’s behavioral modification program — please contact the number on your insurance card and ask them for residential treatment centers in your network. This way you will have coverage. Self-pay programs start at about $7000 per month and up. They usually will only accept PPO insurance policies.

You can visit a single-child-insurance plan or some HMO’s offer single case agreements (SCA).

A Single Case Agreement (SCA) is a contract between an insurance company and an out-of-network provider for a specific patient, so that the patient can see that provider using their in-network benefits (i.e., the patient will only have to pay their routine in-network co-pays for sessions after meeting their in-network deductible (if any).

Single Child Insurance Policy for Mental Health

If you live in the following states, AZ, CO, FL, IL, KS, MO, NC, TN, UT, and VA, Cigna Health Insurance offers a single child mental health insurance policy. Open enrollment starts on November 1, 2020. Call for more information – (866) 621-8181. You can also ask the school or program you are considering if they accept this policy.

Family or Employee Loan

Many families will borrow from relatives or, in some cases, employers have been known to contribute to the family. There is a chance that this could also be a tax deduction for individuals or companies. Don’t be afraid to ask the program if they offer scholarships; some do have limited financial aid, so it is important to ask.

Was Your Child Adopted?

The Adoptive Families Coalition welcomes and helps families with post-adoption challenges. They offer a unique plan to assist in meeting the high cost of therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers. You can find the sponsorship application page at http://adoptive.org/sponsorship/ or Call (602)-740-7149 or (602)-390-0220.

If you adopted your child through foster-care, there may also be financial resources for you. Check with your social worker and the state your child was adopted in to determine your benefits. Some private teen help programs are contracted with state foster-care agencies to assist families of struggling teens.

Was Your Child a Victim of a Crime?

If your child is struggling due to the fact that they were a victim of a crime, there are funds available to help you pay for therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment in every state. In some cases, the entire tuition or a majority of the cost can be covered. You must apply for assistance in the state in which the crime was committed. We should note that the crime must be merely reported and have a case number, it does not need to have gone to trial or resulted in a conviction in order to be eligible for funding. The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards has a list of all of the state crime victim compensation web sites where you can begin to apply for funding for a therapeutic boarding school and residential treatment center.

P.U.R.E. does not offer any scholarships or financial aid.

If you are searching for free programs or programs that accept Medicaid, please contact your Medicaid provider for a list or programs in network. Your local United Way may also have resources for you.

 

DISCLAIMER P.U.R.E. makes no claims to the accuracy of this content and makes no warranties or guarantees that the information will result in funding or even potential funding. This information is not intended as financial advice, and P.U.R.E. is not responsible for the financial choices you make based upon this information. We highly recommend that you consult with a registered financial advisor or your accountant. Also, please take into consideration the entire breadth of your family’s financial obligations before selling any of your assets or entering into any kind of loan agreement, whether it be a personal or institutional loan.

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    Helpful Tips for Research Teen Help ProgramsMost of us never expect to land in a spot where we are searching for teen help outside our local area. It’s really hard to swallow that we have exhausted our resources, our teen is out-of-control, we’re constantly walking on eggshells or feeling like we’re hostage in our own home to their explosive and defiant behavior.

    Turning to the internet can be daunting and downright confusing! You start reading terminology you never thought about or heard of -- wilderness programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers and more. How do you know who is qualified and who isn’t? More importantly, how do you know what your individual child needs?

    Years ago this happened to me when I had a good teen that started making bad choices. The internet, which can be a wealth of information, can also be extremely deceptive. It’s one of the reasons why I created Parents Universal Resource Experts. To help educate parents about the big business of teen help programs.



    HELPFUL TIPS: FINDING THE RIGHT TEEN HELP PROGRAM

    When searching for a therapeutic boarding school (TBS) or residential treatment centers (RTC), keep these tips in mind:

    -Internet deception

    Be cautious of the internet: Today we turn to the internet for almost everything we do, but how do we know what is internet fact, fiction, or somewhere in between? This is why doing your due diligence, especially in this big business of teen help programs, is imperative.

    -Fear-mongering sites

    You will find some websites and forums that will criticize families for seeking outside help for their teens. They may lead you to believe that all programs and schools are bad or abusive. In reality, not all schools and programs are who they say they are– which is why are you here, doing your research.

    You are taking your time to investigate what will be best for your individual child’s needs and learning from the mistakes I made so you don’t have to. It’s exactly why I created P.U.R.E.

    If you find negative complaints about a school/program you are considering – take the time to ask us about it. We never diminish a person’s experience, however we have also realized that some people are there to make it harder for parents to get help. Again, we have walked your shoes and have taken time to dig deep into this industry.

    -Beware of the Placement Specialist

    Are you talking to a placement specialist? What exactly is this? Today these are people that are paid to place your troubled teen in a program. This is not in the best interest of your child. In some cases these are programs that have less than desirable reputations – however the placement specialist is making a commission. Typically what they are good at – is marketing. You may have just become bait and will become inundated with emails from different programs. They will be sending your name and email to many programs without qualifying your child as an appropriate fit for their school.

    If you’re a parent at your wit’s end, be sure you’re always speaking to an owner or director of a program. Someone that has a vested interest in your child’s recovery. These marketing arms aka placement specialists, can be deceptive. Read “A Parent’s True Story.”

    -Placing Abroad

    Be very cautious if sending your child out of the country. Laws are different and cannot protect your child out of the country. Many parents are misled by the lower tuition–don’t be one of them. We recommend keeping your child in the United States. If you are a resident outside of the United States, this may not affect you.

    -Behind the Screen

    Don’t allow fancy websites, emotional online videos determine your decision for your child. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If a program is advertising a very high success rate, please ask them what third party organization did their statistical studies.

    In-house surveys are prejudiced and not always a good source of reliability. Keep in mind, this a major emotional and financial decision you will be making.

    Don’t judge a program by their website. You never know what is behind a screen. We have visited programs that have less than attractive websites with amazing facilities and staff. On the contrary – you will find polished websites with programs that wouldn’t leave your pets at.

    -Myths of Wilderness

    Your teen does not need to complete a wilderness program before they attend a residential treatment program (RTC or TBS). In many cases families today cannot afford that extra step of a wilderness program; however we hear over and over that parents are talked into breaking a child down before sending them to a therapeutic boarding program. Isn’t your teen already broken down? Isn’t that why you are reaching out for help?

    This is why you are looking for programs that will help stimulate your teen back on to a positive road– making good choices and creating a bright future that you had planned for them.

    -Finding the right program

    You are not choosing a program to “teach your child a lesson.” This is a common mistake many parents make. Many times, these are good children making bad choices. Harsh treatment and environment can enhance their anger as well as build resentment.

    -Accredited programs

    Don’t accept a program that is not accredited to educate your child, provides scant food and/or clothing, and has unsanitary living conditions. A visit to the program prior enrollment, if possible, is recommended.

    It is understandable that not every family has the finances or the time for the extra trip. With this, please be sure your research is thorough. Below – the importance of calling parent references can be helpful with this.

    As far as education, ask the program for a copy of their accreditation for their academics. With that you can contact your local school to be sure the transcripts will be transferable.

    -Basic human rights

    It is normal for parents to want their child to appreciate what they have at home; however deprivation of food, sanitation, and clothing should not be accepted. These are basic human rights.

    Many of these teens are suffering from low self-esteem, depression, peer pressure, etc. Taking away their basic needs may escalate these negative feelings.

    -Communication

    Asking the program about their communication with parents and visitation schedule is imperative. Another helpful tip – is to verify it through asking parent references when you call them.

    Don’t enroll any child in a program that refuses to allow parents to speak with their child within a reasonable amount of time, usually no longer than 30 days.

    Visitation in many programs begins at three months. This is your child, and family counseling is just as important as your child’s recovery.

    -Ask questions

    If you feel you have valid concerns and do not understand something, do not allow the program director to overlook your questions. Keep asking until you receive an appropriate response. This is your right as a parent. You are your child’s advocate.

    Ask for the staff’s education, training, and experience. Credentials of those working with your child are vital. Ask if they have background checks for all employees.

    -Age of consent

    Know what the age of majority (consent) is in the state of the program. Be sure children cannot sign themselves out of the program at their current age. You will see that many programs are located in the western part of the U.S. (especially Utah ) due to the age of majority of 18. This ensures your child cannot leave without your consent.

    -Choosing a program in the best interest of your teen

    Do not limit your decision on geographical location. The fact is this is the most important 6-9-12 months of your child’s life to date, it has to be the best placement/program/school that fits their emotional needs — not your travel plans.

    In reality, family visits are never more than every 4-6 weeks (depending on the program) after your teen has completely the initial ninety days.

    We remind parents – this is only a snapshot of their entire life – yet will have such an impact on their future. Let’s not limit it for geographical reasons.

    You won’t be making daily or weekend visits. This is about your teen’s healing, recovery and what is best for him/her. If it means you need to take an extra plane ride or few hours by car, remember — it’s only several months out of their entire life.

    Most programs are very similar in tuition fees, using credit cards as tuition can build frequent flyer miles. (If you are able to do this – with paying it off either with your funds or a loan you have received, can be a good option).

    There are many excellent programs in our country, find the one that is best fitted for your child, not your airport. The other important fact is – if you have a teen that is a flight risk, they are more likely (or tempted) to leave a program (runaway) and call one of their new less-than-desirable friends to pick them up.

    Choosing a program that is in an unfamiliar area is in the best interest of your teenager. Remember this is about your teen’s emotional wellness and recovery, not about geographically convenience.

    -Background check

    Check with the local sheriff department or the state office of the Attorney General or Department of Social Services (DSS) or Department of Children and Families – for reports of neglect or abuse as well as their current licensing.

    With this, understand that there are no perfect programs. Some may have had issues which have since been rectified or are not related to the students. However, others, with constant complaints, should be crossed off you list. Investigation is your best solution in finding a good program.

    When you contact the local sheriff department, ask them how many times a month they are called out to the program – how many runaways they have – and your final question should be, is if it were their child, would they send them there?

    With licensing, you want to be sure they are licensed as a residential treatment centers and not a daycare center or foster care home. You will be paying a significant amount of tuition, be an educated parent.

    -Consequences

    Find out what the program’s use of restraints is. If they have “isolation,” inquire about the length of time that is normally spent there and what this entails. Ask what the program does if your child runs away.

    -Fees

    Ask if the person who is marketing the information receives any kind of direct, or indirect referral fee or compensation (i.e. A month’s free tuition, gifts, certificates, dinners, etc.). P.U.R.E.™ discloses on our FAQ page that we do receive fees from some schools and programs.

    -Ask for and call parent references.

    If a school/program won’t give you parents references, it’s a red flag. It might be time to consider another program.

    Hopefully you have time to ask for at least 3-5 parent references. In some situation you can also speak with the teen that graduated the program too. This should be a call for information, guidance, and support. Did their child have the same issues as yours?

    If you are considering transport and apprehensive about it, ask the parent reference how they got their teen to the program. It’s a great way to gain more insights on residential therapy.

    Parent tip: Ask for families from your own geographical area, as well as parents that have the same gender and age as your child. You want to try to talk to parents as similar to your own situation as well as possibly near where you live. Maybe you could have an opportunity to meet with them in person. Keep in mind, first hand experiences are priceless.

    One question to ask the reference parent is if they could change one thing about the program, what would it be? Though it may not be a major concern, it may be another question you can ask the owner or director of the program.

    -Inside a program

    Look for programs that offer an ACE factor:

    A=Accredited Academics
    C=Clinical with credentialed therapists
    E=Enrichment Programs such as music, sports, animal assisted therapy, horticulture, art therapy, fine arts, drama, or whatever your teen may be passionate about. It is about stimulating your teen in a positive direction by encouraging them to build self-confidence and want to be their best.

    -Family decision

    Most Importantly, placement needs to be a family decision. Trust your gut and your heart.

    If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Keep searching. It is time to bring the family back together. If possible – do this research before you’re in crisis.

    Many parents call us with that gut feeling, than things go well for awhile and they don’t do anything. Suddenly they’re in crisis-mode and have 24-hours to select a program. Don’t be that parent.

    -Free consultation

    Parents’ Universal Resource Experts is about helping educate parents about residential therapeutic schools and programs. We offer free consultations.

    These tips are not to frighten anyone, it is to make parents aware of an industry that has little to no guidelines or regulations to follow.

    It is a fact, some of our kids need help. Let’s get them the right help with an educated and researched decision.

    Many parents contact us about the fear-mongering websites that are up. These sites are usually created by former students and they have listed just about every program in the country.

    Sadly, what they are doing is preventing families from getting the potential help they may need for their child. There is always good and bad in every field/industry — this is why it is imperative you do your due diligence when researching programs.

    We have personally visited, researched and spoken with many parents, students and former employees of programs since 2001. Feel free to contact us if you are considering a program and you find it on one of those fear-based websites.

    One of their issues is that they don’t believe in level systems. Keep in mind – in life, we all work our way up. Whether you start as a clerk and work your way to judge, or start in the mail room and work your way up to an executive. It’s part of the way life is. As long as it is not done in a degrading way.

    Are your considering Wilderness programs? Learn more about them.

    Understand there are some teen behavioral issues that require more intensive therapy. Read more.

    Be an educated parent, this is a major financial and emotional decision for your family.

    P.U.R.E.™ is part of bringing families back together…

    Click here for questions to ask schools and programs.
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