Extended Day Program
The VCA Extended Day Program is an answer to the need for innovative and progressive services for seriously emotionally disturbed children. The Extended Day Program represents best practices, is cost effective, promotes the concept of least restrictive environment and is designed to eliminate the need for more restrictive placement.
Many students who struggle with severe emotional and behavioral challenges (EBD) are referred for more restrictive placement due to the lack of community based resources to provide educational services which will enable these students to make progress in the general curriculum. Because these students cannot achieve stability at more traditional options on the educational continuum, they are often referred to far more restrictive placement options which remove them from their homes, their families and their communities.
Students in need of residential placement have demonstrated the need for therapeutic services outside of the traditional school day in order to make them available for educational services during the regular school day. The Extended Day Program at VCA offers the same kinds of services that as are offered at effective residential treatment centers.
Many studies have indicated that the hours of the day that “at risk” students experience the most severe difficulty are 3 to 6 PM Mondays through Fridays. The structured Extended Day Program at VCA addresses those needs.
Students eligible for the Extended Day Program are those considered by their school district to be at risk for a more restrictive placement. They need academic support and enrichment, skilled therapeutic services as well as recreational, pre-vocational and support services.
Students referred to the VCA Extended Day Program are boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 22. Appropriate class groupings (no more than a four year span) are maintained at all times. These students have been identified by their local school districts as having a primary disability of:
emotional and behavioral disorder
other health impairment
traumatic brain injury
The students may also have secondary disabilities in the above areas.
Classes are small with no more than 10 students to a group. Upon enrollment, the staff assesses the student’s functioning and provides academic, clinical and behavioral programming that is developmentally appropriate. Each student has an IEP (Individual Educational Program) developed by the placing school district. Each IEP indicates the student’s needs, goals, program components, behavior intervention plan and related services required to meet the desired outcome. Students are only enrolled in the Extended Day Program when specified on the IEP by the school district.
In the Extended Day Program at VCA, students attend school from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. During the traditional school hours (8:30 to 2:30) they are grouped with age appropriate peers who may or may not be participating in the Extended Day Program. During the traditional school day, students engage in an academically challenging curriculum that emphasizes group instruction and hands-on activities. The problems that may arise during classroom activities are seen as opportunities for growth. The staff uses a cognitively oriented, problem solving approach to help the students overcome the problems at hand and practice more successful behaviors. While students may experience the logical consequences of their problematic behavior, the approach is always positive and non punitive. VCA does not endorse the use of time-out rooms, physical restraint or other aversive interventions. All staff are trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. The students have a structured behavior management system, based on the Circle of Courage to help them develop strategies to improve their performance.
After the other students depart for home, the Extended Day students gather for a social skills group during which a snack is provided. Students then do homework. After homework, students engage in a variety of academic, therapeutic, leisure, cultural, vocational and artistic activities. Opportunities for individual counseling are available.
The behavior management system is the same as is used during the regular school day. The system provides the students with clear, concrete and immediate feedback. Various rewards and privileges can be achieved by success on the behavior management plan. The goal is to help the students internalize new skills and behaviors.
All staff are trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention, a system of non-violent crisis prevention, intervention and de-escalation. Students can receive additional individual counseling as necessary to prevent disruptive or aggressive behavior. All staff have the proper credentials for their job duties.
Students are transported to and from school by their public school district. They are met at the bus in the morning and escorted back to the bus in the evening.
VCA and the public school district work together to determine which related services are provided during the regular school day and which are provided in the expanded portion of the day.
Referrals can be made directly to VCA's Principal. Tuition is paid by the local school district according to the rate set by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board.