Here are the types of residential treatment for children available in the United States and across the world today.
Placing a child in residential treatment is an incredibly difficult and important decision. In residential settings, children live away from home and receive structured supervision and care. Here are the types of programs available and how they are funded.
- How Do I Get My Child Into Residential Treatment?
- Infographic for Types of Child Residential Treatment and How They Are Funded
- Categories of Residential Treatment Options for Children & Teens
- 1. Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)
- 2. Residential Treatment Center (RTC)
- 3. Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS)
- 4. Autism Treatment
- 5. Military Schools
- 6. Group Homes
- 7. Other Programs
- Free Printable PDF – Youth Residential Treatment Information for Parents
How Do I Get My Child Into Residential Treatment?
As a parent, once you’ve made the incredibly difficult decision that your child needs out-of-home placement, there are two major steps to get them a bed at a treatment facility:
- Find a program for your child. Use our guide below to select the type of program that will best meet your child’s needs.
- Get funding to pay for treatment. Very few people can afford the high costs of paying for a child’s treatment from their family’s budget. Click here to read about the options for how to fund residential treatment.
Infographic for Types of Child Residential Treatment and How They Are Funded
Use this infographic to review the different types of treatment available for children and teens. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a free PDF printable download of this information.
Categories of Residential Treatment Options for Children & Teens
There are many options for residential treatment for kids. It’s important to understand the different types (and how they are funded) so you can make an informed decision to best meet your child’s needs.
1. Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)
A Residential Treatment Facility is a long-term program for mental health care, typically 9-12 months in duration. RTF placements can sometimes extend for a few years but this is not typical.
Most programs are covered by insurance and Medicaid. A mental health diagnosis is required. Parents may be required to pay insurance co-pays or child support. When private insurance funding is exhausted, there are options through your state to apply for Medicaid, even if you wouldn’t typically qualify due to income.
In some states, children are placed into the foster care system in order to pay for RTF placement. With these placements, parents may be required to pay child support payments to the state in order to help fund treatment.
Because RTF treatment is intensive and expensive, it’s reserved for children with the highest need. Proof must be given that all attempts of outpatient treatment have failed.
Conditions that warrant an RTF placement include suicidal behavior, depression to the point of being non-functional, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), severe autism, sexualized behavior, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
Click here to learn more about finding a residential treatment facility for your child.
2. Residential Treatment Center (RTC)
A Residential Treatment Center is typically court ordered by the juvenile justice system for behavior management. There is some treatment but it is not the focus. With RTC placement, the court or foster care system funds treatment.
Parents may be expected to pay child support to the state to help fund care.
3. Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS)
Therapeutic Boarding Schools are private programs that are funded by tuition. Some are non-profit.
There are many types of Therapeutic Boarding Schools including:
- Treatment boarding schools
- Military schools
- Christian boarding schools
- Ranch and Equine (horse) therapy schools
- Non-profit and for-profit programs
- Boys-only and Girls-only schools
- Boarding schools for autistic people, children through adults
Most boarding schools are private pay and tuition can be very high. Scholarships , grants, and payment plans are available. A few programs are provided for free or low cost. Here is one mom’s explanation of the costs for boarding school and how their family handled it.
Click here for a complete listing of therapeutic boarding schools by state.
4. Autism Treatment
Autism Treatment is for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children’s autism residential programs are for severe autism. Group homes and residential programs are available for autistic adults across the spectrum.
5. Military Schools
Military Boarding Schools offer intense structure and supervision. Some take only boys and some are co-ed. There are no girls-only military schools. Almost all are private pay. Scholarships and payment plans are available.
Click here for a list of Military schools by state and click here for ways to pay for military school.
6. Group Homes
Group Homes are run by agencies and paid for by private or state funds. They have less supervision than a facility. Some RTF programs are structured with cottages to give a home-like feel.
7. Other Programs
Below are other specific types of treatment programs.
Wilderness Programs offer therapy in an outdoor setting. Most are short term and private pay. Click here for a list of top rated wilderness programs by state.
Eating Disorder Treatment
Eating Disorder Treatment can be inpatient or outpatient in a medical setting or privately funded. Click here to learn more about eating disorder treatment for children.
Drug & Alcohol Rehab
Drug & Alcohol Rehab can be inpatient or outpatient in a medical setting or privately funded.
Ranch schools are private boarding schools on a working ranch with horse (equine) programs.
If the needs of the child are medical in nature, there are programs within hospital settings that provide support. Medical programs are funded by insurance and Medicaid.
Here are some types of medical care for children’s mental health:
- Emergency rooms give urgent mental health evaluations.
- Short-term inpatient mental health programs are available. These typically last 7-30 days and are meant to stabilize behavior before returning children to the community for further outpatient or day treatment. Inpatient stays are also used to adjust medication. Click here to determine if your child needs inpatient treatment.
- RTFs providing high-level medical care are available for children with complex medical needs.
- Drug and alcohol detox and rehab programs are available in hospitals or private settings.
- Eating disorder treatment programs for children are available in hospitals or private settings.
Sexualized Behavior Treatment
Sexualized Behavior Treatment is available both outpatient and in residential settings. These programs are for children who perpetrate unsafe sexual behaviors.
Click here to learn more about programs for children with inappropriate sexual behavior and click here for a listing by state of programs for children with problematic sexualized behavior.
Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF)
Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities are funded under Medicaid (Title XIX). Children need a mental health diagnosis to receive this type of care.
Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP)
Qualified Residential Treatment Programs are funded under Title IV-E and are a type of placement with court oversight. Programs are for youth who need a highly restrictive setting and are meant to be used only as long as necessary.
Diversion Programs are short-term and have the goal to return youth to a community setting. The purpose of diversion programs is to redirect youthful offenders out of the justice system through supported rehabilitation of behavior.
Free Printable PDF – Youth Residential Treatment Information for Parents
Here is a free printable guide to types of residential treatment for children. Enter your email below to receive your free copy, or click here to download.
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Hello. Thank you for such full and clear guide which type of residential care to choose. Just one question. I just would like to clarify regarding RTC vs RTF difference. Because on this page we have one definition but on the page which describe boarding theurapitic school we have another definition.
Alyssa Carter says
Different states may structure their programs differently, but generally RTF is for mental health and RTC is for juvenile justice.