The Specialized U-13 Program is a trauma-informed intensive treatment program that provides clinical interventions to children and youth with emotional, behavioural, and mental health challenges. Through a relationally rich therapeutic milieu and evidence-based practices the program strives to improve mental health, teach self-regulation skills, and enhance social/emotional functioning. The program supports community and cultural connections and involves parents/caregivers and other natural supports as critical aspects of treatment.
The Specialized U13 program is located on Hull’s Woodbine campus in a building known as sipătsimo moyis, or Sweetgrass Lodge: A place of healing for children. Hull’s Elder, Casey Eagle Speaker, granted a traditional Blackfoot name to this special place.
The children and youth who are admitted to Specialized U13 require a unique and intensive treatment setting due to significant emotional and behavioural challenges that have not been successfully managed or treated in other environments. These challenges may include aggression, self-harm, property destruction, suicidal ideation and attempts, attachment difficulties, and significant mental health concerns among others.
Embedded in a therapeutic milieu and using trauma-informed, clinical interventions, the program strives to reduce significant emotional and behavioural challenges, bolster connections with natural supports, and prepare youth to successfully live in a less-restrictive community setting.
Specialized U13 is an evidence-based multi-component program for children and youth that is guided by the principles of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), developmental neuroscience, and the Neurosequential Model (NM). NM is a developmentally sensitive framework that guides interventions to best teach and support self-regulation by improving brain functioning. Occurring in the context of a relationally safe therapeutic milieu, a highly individualized treatment environment is created that enhances the power of ‘learning through living’. To further promote social/emotional development, children and youth in the program also participate in a psychoeducational group using the Brainwise curriculum. Individual therapy, psychiatry consultation, as well as parent/caregiver coaching, and in-home support are also offered.
In addition to post-secondary education, Specialized U13 staff receive training in a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities such as the Neurosequential Model (NM) and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). The staff also receive numerous core agency trainings as well as intensive in-program training, continuous coaching, and reflective supervision.
The program staff are Child and Youth Care Certified through the Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta (CYCAA) and are members of the Association for Counselling Therapy in Alberta (ACTA) or are Registered Social Workers through the Alberta College of Social Workers.
Specialized U13 serves children and youth involved with Calgary Region Children and Family Services. Referrals are made by case workers and triaged through the placement team.