The Specialized U-13 Program is a specialized treatment, trauma-informed, connection-based program serving children under 13 years of age. It provides a relationally rich environment with present, attuned, attentive, and responsive caregivers. The goal of program is to teach the children regulation skills, improve social/emotional functioning along with supporting parents/caregivers to increase parenting capacity.
At our Specialized U-13 Program, we believe deeply that children in this setting will benefit from having access to cultural resources and connections to validate the critical importance of the strength often found in traditional values and cultural beliefs. The program supports Indigenous children and families in having culturally relevant and respectful services by having access to elders, cultural activities and ceremonies, as well as spiritual activities in our cultural hall, which is attached to our physical space.
The program worked with Hull’s Elder, Casey Eagle Speaker, to identify a traditional Blackfoot program name for this specialized program. We are pleased to name the building the program is housed in, sipătsimo moyis, or Sweetgrass Lodge; A place of healing for children.
The unique, individualized therapeutic milieu is designed for children who will benefit significantly from a reduced number of other children in more traditional Therapeutic Campus-Based Care (TCBC) environments. Larger numbers of children in congregate environments is often a key contributor to disruptive behavioural escalations for this specialized population, as they do not have the adaptive skills and are impacted by a number of sensory processing issues. Specialized U-13 Program offers a care environment with fewer children and greater focus on a smaller number of therapeutic relationships and interactions with a lower stimulus care environment.
Specialized U-13 Program uses the Neurosequential Model (NM), an evidence-based practice developed by Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D. NM is a developmentally sensitive approach to promote self-regulation by improving brain functioning. The goal of the therapeutic milieu is to provide an environment where children learn through living. To promote social/emotional development, children participate in the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies curriculum.
Specialized U-13 Program staff are trained Child and Youth Care Counsellors who are trained in the Neuro-Sequential Model and use a trauma-informed approach. Counselors utilize the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Model to support regulation and to teach coping skills. Depending on the child’s needs, children are also provided with psychological assessments, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, family work, and psychiatric support.
The Specialized U-13 Program serves children involved with Calgary Region Children’s Services. Referrals are made by case workers and triaged through the placement team.