Voyagers is an activity-intensive 24-bed residential program for male youth ages 13 – 18, located on our 140 acre campus located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands. Voyager students focusing primarily on pro-social adolescent development and skill building. Secondarily, Voyagers ensures students have direct access to appropriate outpatient services for needs such as substance abuse, co-occurring disorders and family therapy. Residents are referred to as students, an age-appropriate term that normalizes their situation and emphasizes learning. Students live at our Voyagers facility for approximately 4 to 6 months, but length of stay may vary from a month to a year or longer, depending on need. Weekly progress evaluations between staff and students examine strengths and needs. These individual sessions applaud improvement, target trouble areas and set new goals. Daily group meetings provide an arena for open communication and constructive criticism. The group assumes responsibility for all its members. Each member learns to function within a group, a situation analogous to family life and our society in general. Voyagers itself does not provide behavioral health care and is not eligible for Medical Assistance funding. Outpatient services that are MA-eligible are billed accordingly.
Voyagers provides an activity-intensive milieu that is developmentally appropriate and intrinsically motivating. Voyagers incorporates a group approach with experience-based learning. The group approach emphasizes pro-social skill building and the experience-based learning provides real-world engagement. Specific activities foster interaction and interdependence between group members while simultaneously developing problem solving ability and personal responsibility. The dynamics of trust, teamwork, stewardship, integrity, communication, service and respect are emphasized.
Some students progress within Voyagers to participate in off-campus work projects and field trips that we refer to as “expeditions”. These outings provide an important opportunity for students to demonstrate their readiness to return to the community. The metaphor of an expedition accurately depicts the challenge inherent in these forays into the community at large. Students join our own Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew and participate in specialized activities lasting a day, a week or even longer. Activities typically begin and end with a service project and may also involve canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, backpacking or something similar. These activities are mentally stimulating, emotionally demanding and physically challenging. They support appropriate levels of development. Strict rules for safety, conduct and appearance are maintained throughout.
Engaging the Family
Voyagers recognizes the family disruption so often present when a youth enters residential care. We actively engage the family in the development of skills and competencies necessary to restore effective family functioning. Each family is assigned a Master’s level Youth and Family Specialist to identify family strengths and develop specific interventions targeting the needs of that family. Residential care is supported by family sessions, both on-campus and in-home, promoting positive family development. Reintegration and transition support become the focus as discharge approaches.
Balanced and Restorative Justice
Voyagers embraces the philosophy of restorative justice and the principles of a balanced approach that equally recognizes and seeks to address the needs of the community, the victim and the offender. We stress the development of student competencies to increase the opportunities our students will have to live productively. Students in Voyagers engage in victim awareness activities and are held accountable for their offenses. They accrue funds to pay restitution to restore victims and participate in community service to give something back to the communities whose norms they have violated.
We have an on-grounds licensed private academic school to provide year-round educational services, including special education, GED preparation and Title I summer school. Coursework is provided by certified teachers in small group settings. Academic performance is measured on a weekly basis and students accumulate credits toward a high school diploma and graduation. We find it amazing that students who have hated school for years actually look forward to our classes that provide a balance to the intensive activities that otherwise fill their days here. Students also have an opportunity to participate in our on grounds votech center learning various job skills such as residential wiring, fibernet cable installation, carpentry, plumbing and computer analysis.
Aftercare and Transition Support
An aftercare plan or Single Plan is developed for every student within 30 days of admission, updated quarterly and finalized as discharge nears. Aftercare services are identified and coordinated with referring agents and parents/guardians. We prepare our students for the transition back to home, school and community by increasing family involvement in case planning and through therapeutic home passes. We facilitate school re-enrollment or coordinate GED and vocational classes. Many students who successfully complete Voyagers return to the community via county specific after care services.
Please note that Outside In is not licensed to operate secure facilities. Students who leave without permission or abscond violate the Order of the Court and are reported to police, parents and referring agencies. Outside In bears no responsibility for the actions of such students or their safety. When such students are apprehended it is typical for them to be returned to Voyagers.