I sat down yesterday with Eckerd Youth Alternatives Quality Control Officer, Greg Holeman to find out more about Eckerd schools and programs and their plans for the future.

100,000 Stories and Counting is printed on the front of their marketing packet; so I asked Greg is this really true? Greg told me that since the opening of their first outdoor therapeutic program (OTP) in 1968 and since they opened the first Southeast OTP for girls in 1969 Eckerd has built a continuum of care which includes 40 programs both public and private that work with at-risk teens and their families. Intervention and prevention services, home-based and community-based interventions, out-of-home placement, after-care and reintegration services in nine States comprise the essence of Eckerd. Through these avenues Eckerd helps their students learn how to redirect their behavior and take responsibility for their choices. Each one of the Eckerd programs take a positive approach to helping their students because, “…each child deserves to live a successful and rewarding life,” Greg said.

Through their Child Welfare and Behavioral Health programs Eckerd is able to reach out to kids in most every sector of life. Serving students ages 5-23 Eckerd works to provide support, guidance and wrap-around services to help preserve the family unit. In addition Eckerd has programs to meet the needs of students seeking independent living, family reunification and transitional group housing.

Greg told me that Eckerd is planning to open more private academies in the not too distant future. In this economy, is that a good thing to do? Greg said that Eckerd is reaching out internationally to families across the globe and with this evolution comes the need to expand their services to the private sector beyond Eckerd Academy in Suches, GA and Eckerd Academy in Brooksville, FL. Greg said Eckerd is also broadening the faith-based component of their services. In fact the book mark which is included with the material Greg handed me reads: EYA Making a Difference Every Day “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, As long as ever you can.” John Wesley.

Eckerd does conduct tours of their private academies and asks that if you are interested you call and make an appointment. Eckerd has counselors ready to assist families in the private and public sector; academy admissions 800-914-3937 or for additional services call their help line: 800-554-HELP (4357). Remember to contact SafePassage Adolescent Services ® for a good and safe transition for your son or daughter to an Eckerd facility: 800.811.7911.