Oaklawn’s accredited TIP team helps transition age youth set healthy patterns for adulthood

Crissy Collins is starting to think more seriously about her future. She’s 16 and will start her junior year of high school this fall. Like most people her age, she’s considering colleges, what she wants to study and the skills she needs to get there. But unlike many of her peers, Crissy has experienced a childhood trauma that caused some emotional and behavioral difficulties.

“The year after next, I’ll graduate, and then I’m going to be out there in the world,” Crissy said. “If I can’t control my anger, I can’t do what I want to do.”

Crissy is a client with one of Oaklawn’s newest treatment teams: Transition to Independence, or TIP. The TIP model was specially designed by an organization called Stars Training Academy to help transition age youth (14-29) with emotional-behavioral difficulties reach their full potential. Oaklawn’s TIP program was recently accredited by Stars.

For clients, TIP has the potential to yield positive outcomes for life. Young adulthood is a crucial age, as early choices about employment, education, living situation and community living set a pattern for adulthood. Youth with emotional-behavioral difficulties have higher rates of school drop-out, arrests, unemployment, incarceration and lower rates of independent living, according to Stars. However, data from multiple studies show that each of those areas can be improved with the support of the TIP model.

“The accreditation means that the TIP program is operating with full fidelity to the model, which would hopefully mean we can expect similar positive outcomes for youth,” said Team Leader Randi Irwin. “We are one of only five sites who have achieved this level of fidelity, which is a significant achievement considering the levels of system change and commitment required to support this practice.”

Oaklawn’s journey with TIP began about four years ago, Irwin said. Staff spent about a year training in the model, employing it in both the Child and Adolescent and Adult teams. However, as the organization started to evaluate its fidelity to the model, it became apparent that full fidelity would require an independent team dedicated to serving the demographic. The team has now been operating for about a year and has seven dedicated and highly trained transition facilitators.

That’s making a difference in the lives transition age youth like Crissy. Crissy sees therapist Deslynne Roberts and transition facilitator Linda Smith, who have helped her build coping skills, cultivate her informal supports and establish and meet her own goals. She says she can now better control her anger, has a better relationship with her mom and sisters and has brought her grades up.

“I have had so much support,” Crissy said. “I think that’s the one thing that’s really helped me this year. I have a mentoring group, I have Deslynne, Linda, just encouragement. The encouragement really helps. I think that’s how I got through sophomore year the way I did.”

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