Help in searching for post-secondary programs

Ah, spring! For students about to leave high school for good, it’s the end of an era. And especially if the teens have special needs, spring is the time when their parents lay awake at night wondering what the next era will look like.

While staring at the ceiling, parental thoughts may turn toward finding a program where young adults can learn life skills, job skills, or study skills; where they’ll receive therapy from a committed team of professionals; and/or where they’ll be surrounded by people who understand, guide, nudge, and support them.

The next thought may be “where can we find such a place?”

Indeed, these programs are pretty rare and hard to find. Today’s post will share some websites and resources that help families find post-secondary programs or facilities for young adults with mental illness. My research didn’t turn up “one site that rules them all,” so instead I’ll present a few links which, together, seem to cover many of the options available in the US.

1.  One site to try is the Network of Post-Secondary Programs. Here you’ll find links to the websites of 24 programs, including Adaptive Learning Center, College Internship Program (CIP), and Life Development Institute, all of which have been mentioned in previous posts.

The Network seems to consist of whichever programs choose to belong; it doesn’t appear to be an entity that evaluates or recommends these programs.

On the website, you can search the programs by specialty. For a given program, you can read an overview, look at a table containing program and contact information, or send the program a message requesting more information. Another section of the Network website includes news releases from the various facilities.

If you click on the “View All Programs” option on the Home page, you are taken here. It features a map showing the location of the facilities in the US. However, I noticed that the map only contains 17 points, not 24. Furthermore, CIP has five locations, none of which are displayed! Some updating is clearly needed.

Furthermore, some programs that I know of apparently haven’t opted into the Network and aren’t represented here. So while this website is a great idea, user beware: it isn’t comprehensive.

2.  A site previously mentioned on the Cinder Cone that can help you track down the best-fit program is from the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, or NATSAP. Similar to the Network of Post-Secondary Programs, membership in NATSAP is voluntary, but each program has to be licensed or accredited and must meet other membership criteria.

I found two options on the NATSAP website for finding programs. The Program Search allows you to search for facilities by state, type, gender served, age range, and descriptive keywords. If you prefer, check out the PDF of the NATSAP member directory. Here you’ll find a one-page description of more than 160 programs. In addition to transitional independent living programs, these include therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, wilderness or outdoor programs, and other types. The directory has lists of programs by state, by gender served, etc. It also has a list by state of individuals who are NATSAP members, which may be useful if one-on-one help is of interest. Finally, note that the website includes a “For Parents” page with lots of advice and resources.

3.  The website of the Woodbury Report, first mentioned in this blog post, includes a sidebar that lists several different types of programs for teens and young adults. The categories include the usual suspects, but you’ll also be able to see programs that are Faith Based, Military Style, for Spectrum Disorders, and others that address particular concerns.  Click on a category and an array of program logos will appear. Clicking on a logo will take you to the program’s website.

4. Psychology Today provides another previously blogged-about site for locating programs in the US and Canada. Once you type a location in the “Find a Treatment Center” feature, you can refine your search by outpatient/inpatient, insurance accepted (an awesome feature, if it’s accurate!), and type of program. The last filter is especially helpful, since the bulk of treatment centers in the system focus on substance abuse. Some categories of program types you can select on are “Residential Boarding School,” “Teens & Adolescent Residential,” “Transitional Independent Living Programs,” and “Young Adult Residential.”

5.  Next up is a page titled “Transitional post-secondary programs” on the website of the Special School District of St. Louis County. It includes more than a dozen programs from all across the nation, and links to other transition-related information.

6. If you feel like turning to Uncle Sam for help in finding facilities for someone with mental illness, check out the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator from SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.) Follow the link to see a map of the continental US. In the Find Facility box in the upper right corner, you can type in a city or ZIP Code, then check the box for Mental Health (MH). Once you do, a large drop-down box will allow you to filter the results a lot more. Scroll all the way down in the box to check “Young adults” under the “Age Groups Accepted” category. You can also check “Residential treatment center (RTC) for adults” under the “Service Setting” category. The facilities will show up as yellow dots on the map. The database doesn’t appear to include the transitional post-secondary programs found on the other websites, but it does include clinics and other outpatient facilities.

7. Last but not least is a surprising source of help: Assisted Living Their website has a lengthy page concerning younger adults who may need assisted living due to mental illness or other factors. There is a feature allowing you to search for facilities in your area by typing in your ZIP code. These appear on a map and in a list, with links to each website. I don’t see a way to filter the results for facilities that take young adults, but the website does offer “free expert help.” I’d try that.


I hope these links will be useful to some of the parents who are worrying in the middle of the night instead of sleeping. (I hope the post wasn’t so boring that it made you fall asleep! – although, anything that helps you catch up on zzzzzzz’s is useful, I suppose.)

Please leave a comment if you know of other good ways to find facilities for atypical young adults, or if you’ve used one of the websites mentioned above.


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About janet565

I've lived in the Inland Empire of Southern California since 1982. My profession involves maps and geography. I hope you find the blog useful, and wish you well....

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