How to Open a Boarding School for At-Risk Teens

two hip teenagers image by Elke Dennis from Fotolia.com

When punishments, expulsion and therapy have no effect, desperate parents often turn to residential facilities to straighten out their teens. Some facilities use survivalist techniques, putting kids into primitive settings to re-calibrate their behavioral patterns. Most eschew ‘roughing it’ for old-fashioned discipline in a home setting where kids learn to take responsibility for their actions while being isolated from external pressure. Starting a boarding school for at-risk teens is challenging, but ultimately helps turn young lives around.

Determine the type of boarding school you plan to establish and operate. Become a nonprofit boarding school that requires funding from government, organizations, churches and businesses through donations and grant funds or declare your facility a for-profit enterprise underwritten by the fees paid by parents or custodians.

Draft a business plan outlining the purpose and mission of your boarding school as it relates to rehabilitating at-risk teens. Describe your plan for buying, refurbishing, furnishing and operating your school. Estimate start-up and operating costs. Conceive marketing strategies, goals and objectives as part of a five-year plan that forecasts your boarding school’s future.

Decide on the number of at-risk teens you’ll be able to house and educate. Factor in faculty and staff. Check to see if your community’s occupancy laws set limits on the number of people allowed to live under one roof to choose an appropriately-sized facility.

Apply for loans from a bank, mortgage company or venture capitalist. Include enough cash in your loan proposal request to bring the building’s infrastructure up to code in addition to other remodeling costs. File for licenses and permits required by your community to renovate and operate your boarding school.

Meet with Department of Family Services officials to find out if your boarding school for at-risk teens will be eligible for state or community financial assistance. Be prepared for site visits from housing officials during your boarding school's construction or remodeling if public funds are being spent to renovate your facility.

Submit curricula and lesson plans to your state Board of Education to obtain certification. Hire licensed, credentialed instructors well versed in the psychology of troubled teens to teach mandated and elective classes. Recruit professionals to handle administrative responsibilities if you don’t plan to oversee these tasks yourself. Hire a adolescent behavioral psychologist to work with residents.

Construct a marketing plan to recruit students for your boarding school. Design a brochure detailing residential services your school offers-- for example, dormitory-style sleeping quarters in gender segregated wings, state-certified teachers, extra curricula activities and on-site psychology professionals. Survey boarding schools in your region to make certain you price your services competitively.

Design a balanced schedule for at-risk teens in residence: combine socializing with classes, therapy, sports and activities. Promote rewards and incentives for exhibiting positive behaviors. Prepare and distribute a "bill of rights" to students so they understand the rules they're expected to obey while living at your school.

References

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

Photo Credits

  • two hip teenagers image by Elke Dennis from Fotolia.com