New teen program fills need in Lincoln community - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

New teen program fills need in Lincoln community

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Posted by: Laura Wilson

LINCOLN--A group treatment home for teenage girls is returning to Lincoln this month, after a change in state funding shut it down back in 2010.

“Lincoln has so few programs for girls that we think the need is huge.  We were actually approached by multiple entities asking if we'd reopen,” Mary Barry-Magsamen, Executive Director of St. Monica’s, explained.

And this is much more than a shelter for adolescent girls.  It will act as a home and a treatment program for them.

The St. Monica’s “Channels” program is designed to help girls, ages 14-18, manage substance abuse or mental health issues—making it the only program of its kind in Lincoln.

“We choose to provide our services in a holistic way.  The girls are really going to learn a lot more when they're with us.  They're going to learn life skills.  They're going to be cooking, cleaning, and going to going to school,” said Barry-Magsamen.

Some county officials believe there’s too big of a gap between the criminal youth system and intensive behavioral care that is offered in the state.

Many hope this program will serve as more of a middle ground.

"There are options that are of a higher intensity that are available for those youth.  But when you elevate that youth when they may not need that level of care, you're actually creating an environment that puts them at a higher risk to remain with system involvement,” said Julie Scott, a Behavioral Health Specialist from Administrative of the Courts and Probation.

"A lot of times, we're finding probation is literally sending girls out of state.  And that's probably on the positive end.  The more negative would be nothing.  They end up on the streets or continue down that road to more serious situations,” Barry-Magsamen added.

The program will house up to eight girls at a time, and will include weekly programming and therapy.

The ultimate goal is to reunite them with their family, so their average stay lasts 4-6 months.

"We'll have families in here.  Family visits, family meals, whatever we can to rebuild those family relationships,” Barry-Magsamen said.

Funding could still be a little risky for the organization.  They expect the majority of it will come from the State Probation Office and Medicaid coverage.

Donations are always needed, though.  Click here to learn how to help.

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