Ben’s parents suffered from substance abuse addiction. By the age of 13, Ben was chewing tobacco and/or smoking a pack of cigarettes on a daily basis.  He knew very little about his father, so when Ben’s mother died, he moved in with his grandparents. Shortly after, Ben’s grandmother passed away and his grandfather became physically abusive. Ben was forced to move again and was taken in by his aunt.  He wandered through life fighting back the only way he knew how – fights, drugs and truancy.  By the time he was court ordered into juvenile court custody and arrived at The Florence Crittenton Agency’s New Pathways Academy, he was one angry and confused young man. The agency immediately began assessments in preparation of developing a treatment plan for Ben.  Ben, realizing the agency was intent on helping him improve his life situation, became engaged and compliant with agency staff.

The Florence Crittenton Agency’s New Pathways Academy is a non-public school, licensed by the Board of Education, that offers a year-round school schedule that provides the academic needs of middle and high school aged residential clients. Individualized programming makes the academy a critical resource that addresses the behavioral and mental difficulties of classroom engagement as well as academics.

The agency staff scheduled Ben for a medical exam, drug test, eye exam, dental exam and a review of his immunization records.  Ben had follow up psychological evaluations, alcohol and drug evaluations, his school transcripts were collected, and he received an educational assessment. Additionally, Ben’s family history was collected and reviewed with the Department of Children Services to better determine an effective treatment plan for Ben.

Ben’s evaluations and assessments revealed the following information:

At age 16, Ben should have been in the 10th grade, but had fallen behind. Ben was enrolled in the 9th grade and was reading at a 2nd grade reading level. Ben was involved in a local gang, carried a gun, had an assault charge filed against him, and was in violation of his probation. He sold drugs to support his habit and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Ben also suffered from medical issues like arthritis in his knees, untreated diabetes, impaired vision, attention/hyperactivity with behavioral mood disorders, and experienced hallucinations and insomnia on a consistent basis.

Despite Ben’s barriers, he told the staff that he had hopes of quitting drugs, succeeding in school, and becoming a mechanic.

The treatment team, cognizant of the information revealed in his assessments, developed a treatment plan to help Ben create a brighter future for himself. Ben was provided with college dorm-like lodging with three nutritious meals and snacks daily in a secure Level III unit, medications as prescribed by the agency psychiatrist, and a special education plan with collaborative communication to his public school system. The New Pathways Academy engaged Ben in early recovery skill building for drug use and anger management, and helped Ben evaluate his current friendships and influences. Ben was also provided with group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy. New Pathways Academy also assisted Ben with legal issues for his court proceedings, and guided Ben through the trauma-focused cognitive behavior curriculum with enhancement time for developing coping skills, grief management and family relationship building.

At the end of Ben’s stay with New Pathways Academy, he was receiving treatment for his medical issues, had progressed from the 9th grade and re-entered school at grade level with a special education plan, was drug free, placed in an appropriate foster care home, and was scheduled for in home weekly session and medication management.

Thanks to United Way funding, The Florence Crittenton Agency was able to provide a new way of life with drug free and positive health outcomes to Ben and for 535 youth with similar stories.

United Way of Greater Knoxville is proud to support programs like The Florence Crittenton Agency’s New Pathways Academy that make a difference for youth in our community. At United Way, we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community because we know that change doesn’t happen alone. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

*In order to maintain their anonymity, names in this Story of Impact have been changed.

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