Assessing a program
Recommended questions
to ask any program

Going beyond a nice website
with a bucolic landscape and
happy teen photos.
Sending your child away is hard enough. Knowing you are sending them to a well run, accredited, and licensed program that will actively focus on helping your child and your family is critical. Here are some questions we believe are helpful as you decide the best fit for you and your child.
In our experience, the in-take and admission support personnel are often very compelling and do a great job of selling the program services. But it is important to dig deeper into the program and go beyond what they are pitching.
You can find basic information on a program’s website — what issues they address, what ages they serve, which organizations they are accredited by etc. However, to truly understand a program, you will want to both ask lots of questions of the program, consult any professionals involved with your child’s treatment, and speak with other parents who are familiar with the program.

Recommended Questions

Here are some questions that will help you learn more about a program and whether it is a good fit for your child and family


  • Could you please provide me with the contacts for a few parents whose children have been in the program recently?

Program Facts

  • What is the minimal amount of time my child needs to be there and what is the most typical time?
  • What kinds of activities do you do with the kids on weekends or for fun?
  • What are the typical “breaks” for kids to come home and when are they first allowed home?
    e.g. some programs have monthly breaks, close for holidays etc.
  • How do you support the family in preparation for home visits?


  • Can my child continue to engage in academics and is the teaching done on site and in-person or is it virtual?
    Some programs have a more traditional school-like program and many are more focused on treatment and connect to a virtual program.


  • Do you have a licensed psychiatrist on staff or accessible?
  • If not on staff, how often are they available?
  • If not on staff, how do you handle medication assessment?
    Many of the programs do not have a full time psychiatrist on staff but contract with one part time so don’t be surprised if that is the case.
  • Are there licensed therapists on staff and how many kids are they each responsible for?
  • What kinds of therapy are your providers licensed in?
  • Is there group therapy in addition to individual, and what is the typical cadence of those therapies?
  • How much turnover do you typically have for therapeutic staff?
    Lots of turnover, of course, is tough on the kids and can be disruptive to the process as well as indicative of other problems.
  • What kind of punishment/restraint are used if a child breaks the rules?
  • If there were an incident involving my child, what is your process for handling that and what is the process for involving the family?
  • What, if any, behavior would result in my child being expelled from the program and if that happens, do you help me find other placement?

Family Involvement

  • How do you involve parents/guardians in my child’s treatment?
  • What are the expectations for me to come visit/participate in sessions, etc?
  • How often are one or both parents or guardians expected to visit and engage in therapy with my child in person?
    Some programs expect that quarterly and it is helpful to know that ahead of time.
  • How often do we have virtual family therapy sessions?

Outcomes & Transitions

  • What information can you provide me about outcomes for the kids you have treated?
  • What types of kids have not done well in your program?
  • How do you support families post graduation?
  • Is there help with the transition out of the program?
  • Do you refer families to at-home support programs?

Paying for it

  • I know I cannot get reimbursed by insurance for much of what the program offers, but how can I get copies of the therapy bills so that I can submit those or do you submit them?
    In our experience, most do not. They can provide “Superbills” that make it quite easy to submit.
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