Boys Town Residential Treatment Center
"I learned a lot here. The skills and support that Boys Town has to offer is a phenomenal opportunity for all youth that are struggling." "I was 17 when I came to the RTC. It was a process, a long process, that I needed the right kind of people by my side for, and Boys Town gave me that." On December 26, 1995, Boys Town opened its first residential treatment center in downtown Omaha. Now most parents were busy that day watching their children play with the presents they'd opened the night before, but for some parents, this opening of the residential treatment center was the answer to their prayers. It was the greatest gift that they could have imagined because finally there was a place for their troubled children to get help. For 25 years now we've been offering that help because of the wonderful support of our donors and staff and all of you who've made this possible. God bless our residential treatment center with 25 years of being that gift for children. The kids from campus had no other option if they were acting out than to be hospitalized and that began a discussion of, is there something else we can do for these kids besides either terminating them from the family home program or hospitalizing them repeatedly and we came up with the idea of having a longer-term, more secure setting, such as the residential treatment center. When Boys Town first started this program there was no other RTC in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, at that time, and Missouri, and so this was a very novel concept and there was a lot of questions as to whether or not it was a viable option. We wanted the RTC to be a place where kids could grow. A place where kids would find comfortable, a place that would be more like what a kid's home bedroom would be like with a strong focus on education. A lot of the kids that we have were showing behaviors such as self-harm, suicide attempts, high levels of aggression, property destruction and we were able to to watch them closely and give them a secure, safe setting and give them the treatment they needed, more intense therapy, both individual and family and group therapy. Many kids come to us, still do, on way too many psychotropic medications and so we look at proper diagnosis and proper use of psychotropic medication in those kids. We had a waiting list. We had referral sources that wanted to know when we were going to be able to expand further. We clearly were able to show that there was a need but we were also able to clearly show that there was positive outcomes and those positive outcomes caused us to grow. We were able to design, bright lights and colors, high ceilings and wide hallways, recreational facilities, the playground itself, phenomenal. One thing we noticed right away, and we've continued to notice, when you have a nice facility and it looks good, the kids take better care of it. They seem to take some pride in where they're living even though it's temporary. To watch that and then along with watching them feel what it feels like to succeed is really awesome.
Since 1995 we've cared for right at 3,000 kids, from about 30 different States, and several foreign countries and provided more than 500,000 patient days. We really strive for a consistent, positive, strength-based environment on a daily basis. These kids know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. They know what their schedule is going to be, we have a consistent teaching approach and so our kids often thrive in that environment. 12 months after leaving us, 85% of our children are are either in school or have graduated. We think that is a very, very high success for our program. I learned a lot of skills that helped me to, you know, be accepted to Creighton University and be as successful as I am today. If I hadn't been lucky enough to come to the RTC and lucky enough to be on campus, without the structure, without the support, without the help in becoming a healthy human being, then I definitely wouldn't be alive.
To go from a program of, when I started, 46 beds to gradually increase to now a program of 80 beds has been very special to me. One of my greatest joys of being the first employee of the RTC, and being here over the last 25 years, is seeing youth that come to the RTC very sad, very disgruntled, and then see them in six weeks or a couple months leaving the RTC extremely happy. It really brings joy to my heart. I'm so grateful that we've been able to help so many kids. It's very rewarding. I have a strong sense of gratitude that Father Peter and Dr. Brookhouser, and the good Lord allowed us to do this, and be part of this mission of Father Flanagan's, that we are able to carry on that torch and help more and more kids, especially these very difficult ones.