Residential Treatment Center (RTC) what is it?


New Member
I was told that my 16 year old son will most likely going to a Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Can anyone tell me alittle about these places? What are they like, etc. He 's not on drugs or anything it's mainly for behavioral issues.


Well-Known Member
An Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is a Residential Treatment Center. It is a short or long term placement option for children who can not be helped within the community. They provide more extensive therapy and around the clock supervision---something that is virtually impossible in the home. Many parents on this board have used that option. Hopefully they can tell you more about them than I can.


In California, and probably other states, Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s have various levels of security from a lockdown "boys' ranch" type place out in the middle of nowhere to a house in a residential area such as the one my son was court-ordered into.

At his house, there are usually around 6 to no more than 10 boys, living 2 to a bedroom, and they have around-the-clock supervision from staff. The staff takes care of meal preparation and taking the boys to and from school, shopping, the gym, church, and other recreational activities. A psychiatrist and psychologist come in one or more times a week to conduct individual and group counseling where they address individual issues such as drug/alcohol use/abuse, anger management, etc.

Their every word and action earns them points which translate into privileges such as a later bedtime, access to electronic equipment (video games, CD players, etc.) special trips, and coming home to visit on weekends.

My son's program is a step-by-step process, similar to earning badges in Scouts, where each step has to be completed before he can "graduate." The most important step that must be completed before graduating the program is graduating from high school.

The bottom line, from what I have been told, is behavior modification, getting a diploma, education and skills to avoid drug/alcohol abuse, job training when they earn that "privilege," and other skills so that they can function appropriately and productively (and independently, if they so choose) once they're released.



(the future) MRS. GERE
Tracy, I wondered how old your son was. You might want to put ages in your signature.

Just as a point of clarification, this forum is mostly made up of parents of kids who are over 18 and/or living independently and our advice is a reflection of that. Since your son is 16, you have legal obligations to him that the rest of us no longer have with our kids because ours are older.

I don't want you to misunderstand what I'm trying to say because we are happy to have you and you are more than welcome to post in's just that when my boy was 16 (and he was sent to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) at that time) and still a minor our situation had more in common with the parents on the General Forum.

I guess I just want to make sure that when you hear the rest of us telling a parent that it's time his/her difficult child moved out, that the difficult child we are talking about is a legal adult, not a minor.