Questions to ask an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) - need input


member since 1999
Several years ago, Jerri compiled a list of question to ask prospective Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s. It was extremely helpful to me when I started looking. The 'net gremlins ate it, so I thought it would be helpful to new and future members to redo it. This is what I remember - please add on. Thanks!

1) Is the facility clean? Look at bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms.
2) Are the kids well groomed?
3) What is the kids' demeanor? Is staff interacting with- them, or does staff seem to be "babysitting"?
4) Does the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) restrain kids, and if so, how often are staff retrained in the procedure?
5) Is there a "quiet room" and what is the policy for it's use (length of time in it, supervision)?
6) How much group and individual therapy will difficult child be in, how often, and what is the training of the therapists (Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), PhD)?
7) What is the educational training of staff and how much turnover is there?
8) How many of the kids are wards of the state?
9) What are the expectations in terms of parental involvement/visits/phone calls?
10) What is the average length of stay?
11) Do they accept sexually predatory children and do they have a SACY (sexually aggressive children and youth) plan in place?
12) What is the staff to child ratio?
13) What degree of supervision is there? Are there "floats" available for crises? What is the nighttime staffing?
14) Are there times when they determine they cannot help a child, and do they refer the family to a more appropriate Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?
15) How often do children have to return to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) after discharge?
16) What types of clients do they accept? Violent children, severe Learning Disability (LD)'s, etc.
17) How will staff communicate with you, and will they be available to you 24/7 for concerns?
18) What is their complaint process? If they have a program description and dispute resolution in writing (which they should), get it.
19) How often do kids bolt and what is their policy for dealing with- runners?
20) Is a psychiatrist on staff/on site? How many RN's are on site?
21) Who handles medical/dental care? Will staff make, and transport to, appts? Is there a visiting pediatrician?
22) Is there a school on site? Is it licensed by the state? Is there an opportunity for "mainstreaming" in the local schools if appropriate for the child?
23) What recreational activities are available, both on site and in the community?
24) Do the children share bedrooms, or are they private?
25) When do they hospitalize unstable children? Where? What are their suicide prevention measures?
26) You can check with the state agency who licenses the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for any formal complaints against the Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
27) What does discharge planning consist of? Will they help you hook up with- community services? Do they offer any aftercare or follow up after discharge? Do they offer respite services?

I think that's it.
This is a pretty good list. The only thing I would add would be how does the facility determine if a child is appropriate for their program. Is it a team decison and if so who is on the team and what criteria do they use in their decision (for example do they take into account the current dynamics of a group before adding a new kid, etc).


Former desparate mom
1.What is the method of consequences for broken rulses? Who supervises? How are the consequences evaluated for effectiveness?

2.What is the policy for sexual behavior among clients? Are children/teens supervised at all times?

3. How are healthy,positive choices reinforced?

4. How are kids rewarded?

5. What is the policy for a flight risk or a runaway?

6. Do the children have a method to complain to family or outside agencies if they choose.

7. How are medical treatment changes handled? Are the parents notified prior to the change.

8. Are parents notified if physical restraint is necessary?

My biggest concern is my childs' physical and emotional safety.
Secondly, would be the positive teaching,nurturing and reteaching.


Well-Known Member
For any residential facility I would add:

1. What are the educational/training requirements
for basic staff?
2. What is the staff to resident ratio during the
day and also at night?
3. What staff members are supervisors and what
qualifications and ratios are specified.
4. Are written reports sent to parents weekly or
?? at what intervals?
5. What personal items are the residents allow
to retain?
6. If there is a level system, could we have a
printout to review?
7. What about phone calls? Parents to staff,
staff to parents, resident to family???

We have only experienced substance abuse Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s
for teens so I am not knowledgeable about those for younger children or those with complex mental
health issues. At both private programs and at
the public facility there were big differences in
"control" depending on who was left in charge...
especially at night. One staff member with no
education or training was often left with fifteen
teenagers. Things got whacky!! I would surely
want assurance that someone with real qualifications was in charge if my child were in
an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for complex issues. :rolleyes: DDD