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Contact Policy

Telephone, Mail, Electronic Communication, and Visitation Policy for Family Members and Community Resources

Hillcrest Educational Centers (HEC) believes that ongoing connection, contact, and visitation must occur between the students in our care and their family members and important community resources.   In order to provide the most beneficial treatment, students’ families must be collaborative partners with HEC and the student themselves in the treatment process.

Ongoing contact with family members of students in support of treatment and permanency goals must be prioritized. Any restrictions on contacts with family members/community resources, or type of contact, must be prescribed by the student’s guardian, the court, and/or by the HEC treatment team or treatment policy, due only to therapeutic or safety concern. When restricted by HEC, the rationale and specific restriction must be discussed with the student’s guardian, documented in the student’s treatment plan (CTP) and the student’s contact sheet, and the family member(s) affected by the restriction must be notified. If it is believed that an immediate safety or treatment concern exists, an immediate restriction may be made to address it. The rational and specific restriction must then be clearly documented on a student contact sheet, and any resulting restriction of future contact must be documented according to this policy. No restrictions are allowed for the purpose of punishment or creating motivation.


  • Students may send and receive mail to and from all approved parties as indicated on the student’s contact sheet.
  • Student’s incoming and outgoing mail must go through the student’s clinician or designee to help ensure that the proper support is provided to the student reading it, and to be sure that the mail is according to the student’s contact sheet and contact restrictions.
  • Mail is not to be read by staff unless invited by the child to do so, or there is documentation authorizing staff to read the student’s mail.
  • Boxes and packages, or envelopes that seem to have items enclosed in them will be required to be opened in the presence of staff and may be searched by staff to ensure that no contraband items are enclosed.

Telephone Calls

  • Students may call and receive calls from all approved parties as indicated on the student’s contact sheet.
  • Students must have the opportunity to make outgoing phone calls on a daily basis.
  • Students may call and receive calls when the student or phone is available.
  • We encourage families to make calls after school so as not to interrupt student academic instruction. We recognize that there may be occasions when a service provider or family may need to speak to them during the school day about an urgent matter, or to help the student cope with a pressing issue.
  • There are some times when it may be difficult for a student to get to the phone. These include after bedtime, while off campus on a community trip, when another youth is using the phone, or in the midst of a severe behavioral problem. If a student is unable to take a call, efforts should be made for the student to make contact as soon as possible.
  • Student phone calls may not be conferenced (listening to both sides) or monitored (listening to one side) unless invited to by the student and the family member to do so, or the treatment team has considered it necessary.
  • When conferencing is necessary, the family member must be aware that their conversation is being conferenced.
  • Staff will provide supervision of the student’s behavior, emotional state, voice tone, and volume during all phone calls.
  • Staff will dial the phone for all student calls.
  • Staff will document all phone contact, including the family member contacted, the length of the call, and any observations of note (from above) on a student telephone contact sheet.
  • If a student or their family would like special privacy for a phone call, the program will try to make that possible.
  • Because of the number of students needing to use the phone and the limited amount of time to make calls, staff may limit the number and length of phone calls made by students. Students and family members are asked, as a general rule, to aim for calls of approximately fifteen minutes, in order to allow others the opportunity to make calls as well.
  • Staff, students, and their families are asked to use problem-solving, social/interpersonal, and teamwork skills to negotiate the struggles with sharing phone call times and resources on the campuses.

Electronic Communication

  • Hillcrest’s policy for use of electronics is found under a separate heading. Please refer to the full policy for information about use of electronic on the campus.
  • For purposes of supporting contact, clinical staff can work with families to explore a variety of options including Skype and email communication.


  • The student, approved family members, and the treatment team should determine a visitation plan for the student with family members for the first 6 weeks (through the diagnostic period) of placement.
  • Visitation during this time is usually on-campus and supervised as a part of the assessment and acclimation process for students and family members to campus rules, expectations and procedures.
  • Visitation planning should continue at CTP and Treatment Team Meetings, and should be planned in a minimum of 6-week periods to ensure that the needs of the student, the family member(s), and the program are being met. Visitation can take a variety of forms including on campus, off campus in the local community, off campus in the home community, and off campus in the home.       Visit types are determined based on safety and treatment needs.
  • Hillcrest provides travel support once per month for all students who are safe for a visit to their home or home community and have approved family resources to visit.
  • People on the student’s sheet may visit on campus. We recognize that families sometimes cannot plan far in advance. We as that whenever possible, the visitors provide 1-2 weeks’ notice to ensure that the student is not off-campus on a trip, to ensure that we can provide any required staff supervision, and to ensure any medical treatments (i.e. medication passes) can be accommodated. If adequate notice is not given, and we cannot provide the needed staffing, we will have to ask the visitor to reschedule the visit.   Visits can be scheduled by contacting the clinical staff assigned to the student.

If a family or visiting resource can’t afford to visit, the Hillcrest agency may be able to help. Ask the student’s clinical staff.


The TCI System

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) is the crisis prevention and intervention model currently in use in all Hillcrest Educational Centers programs. It teaches care workers about the impact supportive adults can have on students’ lives and how to interact with sensitivity to help de-escalate situations where young people may be experiencing difficult feelings or displaying troubling behavior. TCI includes many of the concepts of Collaborative Problem Solving and Trauma Informed Care.

Even though the TCI system is focused on verbal interventions and de-escalation, the use of physical intervention with our students is still sometimes necessary. Use of physical intervention is only used as a last resort and only in emergency situations to keep everyone safe. The use of prone, or face-down, restraint is prohibited in our state unless it is the only restraint that may keep a young person safe and we have gotten permission from the parent. Supine, or face-up, standing, and seated restraints are included in the TCI system and used by Hillcrest Educational Centers.

Every student that we work with has an Individual Crisis Management Plan (ICMP) that is made with their input when they first arrive and is updated frequently. It includes information like goals the student has for the future, things that may make the student upset, medical issues the student may have, and types of things staff can do to help the student when they are upset. The ICMP also includes which types of restraint are appropriate for use with each student if restraint must be used in an emergency situation.

TCI also makes sure that students and staff alike learn from difficult situations when they occur. After any incident staff will use a TCI tool called the Life Space Interview (LSI) to talk to the student and try to understand what the student was going through, what may have contributed to the difficult situation, and how similar situations could be handled differently in the future to prevent troublesome behaviors. Furthermore, behavioral incidents, including physical interventions, are often debriefed by staff and supervisors afterword to ensure that we are handling them as safely and effectively as possible.

We are always trying to reduce our use of restraint as an emergency intervention, and each of our programs has a Student Treatment and Intervention Committee and an Improving Organizational Performance committee that meet frequently to review restraint data and discuss ways to reduce its use and make sure it is being used carefully and properly. As vital members of the treatment team parent/guardian input on ways to reduce the use of restraint with their child/client is always welcome.

For more information visit the website: Here

Addressing Behavior Concerns

When students are involved in situations and behaviors that are disruptive or dangerous, we have a set of steps we take to ensure safety and to help students learn skills to manage these situations more effectively in the future. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, staff will assign processing tasks that focus on making repairs for any harm to others or to the program. Here is a list of these steps and a description of when and how they are used.

Taking Space

Students can request to take a brief break from the current task when feeling overwhelmed or triggered. Simply ask your staff if you can take space. Your staff will talk with you to understand your needs and work with you to support you, including taking space if necessary. Most of the time, staff will be able to take you for space. Sometimes a staff may ask you to wait while he/she makes a plan for the supervision of the rest of the students. If a plan cannot be worked out for taking space, the staff will work with you to figure out an alternate plan. Sometimes a staff may encourage you to try a skill right in the area, if you have been working together on skills that can help you stay in program. The goal of taking space is to use a skill to manage your emotions and behaviors and to have you rejoin program as quickly as possible.

 Skill Coaching Exercises

  • Skill Coaching Exercises will be assigned when students exhibit repetitive, disruptive behavior that signals the need for skill development.
  • Examples: swearing, refusing to complete tasks, provoking, horseplay, non-dangerous contraband, excessive yelling
  • Steps:

1) Identify what skill is lacking

2) Identify a way for the student to practice this skill

3) Coach and/or rehearse the skill with the student

If skill coaching exercises are not successful and the student continues with problem, student can be placed on the next level, Support Level.

Support Level

  • Behavior that is disruptive to programming or is concerning for the students’ safety and well being.
  • Minimal potential or intent to cause harm to self or others
  • The student is not considered to need increased supervision and/or counseling as a result.
  • May prevent program from occurring as scheduled.
  • These behaviors indicate the need for increased staff support to complete skills and tasks.

Because of this need for increased staff support, processing will be assigned and the student’s privileges will be suspended. When all processing is complete and behavior is stable, the student may participate in regular programming (regaining use of privileges). Processing is considered complete when it is approved by staff and supervisor.

Safety Level

  • Behavior that caused, or was intended to cause potential significant harm to self or others.
  • Student is considered to need increased supervision and counseling as a result.
  • Safety Level behaviors indicate the need for increased staff support to complete skills and tasks.

Because of the significant safety concern and need for increased supervision, privileges will be suspended. When all processing is complete and safety is restored, indicating that the student no longer needs increased support and supervision, the student may participate in regular programming (regaining use of privileges). This occurs at start of next circle up period if processing is approved by staff and supervisor.

Individualized Programming

In very serious situations, where a student’s behavior has put themselves or others in very serious risk of harm, and where remaining in regular programming will not reduce this risk, Individualize Programming may be used. Individualized programming means that the treatment team makes a plan for the student to receive programming in a way that is different than the other students. This may mean having extra staff supervision, participating in some part or all parts of program from a different location, having separate transitions from the rest of the team, or other interventions that are designed to keep everyone safe and ensure that the student continues to receive programming. Individualized programming always includes skill practice, processing, and intensive support for the issues that resulted in the dangerous behaviors.

Community Board Review

Community Board Review involves a group of staff who meet weekly to discuss any serious incidents from the week that had a significant and serious impact on the community. When such an incident happens, the Board places the student on Board Review Status and meets with the student to discuss the incident. Students who are on Board Review Status will not have access to their privileges. The focus of Board Review is around safety and accountability.

The following incidents would require Board Review:

  • Assault
  • AWOL or Major Off-Location
  • Serious Sexual Behavior
  • Fire Setting Behavior (including pulling fire alarm)
  • Interfering with a restraint
  • Continual Disruption to the HEC Community Values

The Board will assign tasks to the student that focus on restoring safety, taking responsibility for his/her actions, and making plans for eliminating this behavior in the future. Each week, a student’s board work will be reviewed with the student at Board Review. Once all Board Work is complete, the student will no longer be on Board Review Status.

Hillcrest’s Treatment Model

This program’s treatment model and all of our treatment interventions are designed to provide trauma informed treatment to youth and their families. Through the lens of trauma informed care, we utilize the Skills for Life treatment model and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Skills for Life is a strength-based, comprehensive treatment model designed by Hillcrest Educational Centers. TCI is an evidence-based crisis prevention and intervention system through Cornell University. Together, these two models encompass day-to-day treatment interventions, structures, routines, skills coaching/rehearsal opportunities, verbal interventions, and crisis support.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) 

When the environment is very overwhelming, as is often the case when a person experiences trauma, attachment disruption, loss, domestic violence or abuse, the result can be significant impact on the development of the person’s skills and resources. Exposure to those who have experienced these events has impact on others in the community. A trauma informed environment requires an understanding of trauma and considers its effects, at the personal, individual, and societal levels.


Skills for Life has specific values and expectations for both students and staff. We use these values and expectations to make decisions about programming, to address behavior concerns, and to recognize successes. Here is a list and definitions of our values and expectations.


  • Use safe words and actions toward yourself and others
  • Promote peacefulness
  • Provide predictability, fairness, and accountability


  • Respect yourself and others in every way
  • Respect your environment

Show healthy boundaries

  • Build healthy relationships


  • Accept responsibility for your decisions & actions
  • Build skills that will help you avoid harm to self or others
  • Make repairs when your decisions & actions are harmful to self or others


  • Think about what others are experiencing
  • Think about what others need, & what might be getting in the way of their goals
  • Work to be the best helper, peer, coach, employee, supervisor, friend, & citizen you can be

Realistic Expectations

  • Set realistic expectations & goals for yourself and others
  • Support one other in achieving these goals
  • Modify the environment in order to meet these expectations & goals, when needed


Take care of yourself in every way

Support each other in this process


  • Work together to bring the greatest success
  • Allow everyone’s voice to be heard

Personal Enrichment

  • Explore your interests and try healthy new things
  • Develop your talents
  • Celebrate the things that make all of us unique


Here as some important meetings and documents in Skills for Life that you should know about.

Comprehensive Treatment Plan (CTP): While you are at Hillcrest, you will have goals to work toward. These goals are what make up your Comprehensive Treatment Plan (CTP). Your first CTP will be held within 45 days of your admission. You will then have a CTP meeting every 3 months to review your goals, objectives, and progress in treatment. You, your family, your agency worker(s), and your Hillcrest staff will work together to set up goals, objectives, and skills to practice that are specific to your individual needs. Everyone on your treatment team will know your goals and will help you work on them throughout your stay at Hillcrest. When you have completed your goals, you will be ready for discharge.

Daily Logs: Every student at HEC has a daily log that staff use to manage your schedule, to guide staff on the things you are working on in your treatment, and to track your progress in building skills. At your CTP meeting, we work together to decide what things are written into your log. The logs use a rating scale of 1 through 5.

1 = skills assessment

2 = significant coaching

3 = moderate coaching

4 = minimal coaching

5 = independent skill use

Circle-Up: Your team/class will have a group discussion called circle-up at least 3 times a day (at the beginning of school, after school, and before bedtime). Circle up is an important part of your treatment. Staff will talk with you about how your day is going, review your skill practice, and talk about how much support you have needed during the day. Circle up is also used to problem-solve issues on the team, to learn about upcoming events for the team, and to recognize successes of the team.

Team Meetings: Once a week, the treatment team members meet to discuss students’ progress, review any requests students have made to the team, and to problem solve any team issues. This meeting is also where CTP meetings take place. Staff who attend team meeting are YDCs, clinicians, assistant supervisors or supervisors, a nurse, teacher or TA, and a campus administrator. The kinds of student requests reviewed at team meeting include requests to move up treatment levels, shopping requests, and privilege requests.

Student Community Meetings: Once a week, your team will have a student community meeting. They usually occur at the end of the school day. In addition to the YDC’s that work with your team, a clinician, and a campus supervisor/administrator will come to your meeting. The meeting is an opportunity to talk about team issues, review any requests that students have sent to the team meeting, and to recognize team successes.


 Skills for Life includes a set of treatment levels. Each student is assigned to the “Welcoming Level” when admitted to Hillcrest. Each level has a specific set of treatment tasks for you to work on. When you achieve these tasks, you can request to move up to the next level. Here is a description of each level. Your program may also have specific treatment expectations for your levels that are based on a specific treatment issue. If so, these expectations are also included in this handbook or will be given to you by staff when you are admitted.


  • Get to know peers and staff, identifying some individuals that you are comfortable with and can accept help or support from.
  • Learn about and participate in basic parts of program, including school and residential programming as well as learning basic routines, expectations, and rules.
  • Participate in assessment and safety/treatment planning, culminating in an ICMP and treatment plan.
  • Begin to learn about DBT and other skills that can support your treatment through participation in individual and group therapy, and various skill practice opportunities.
  • Participate in a trauma assessment and help to identify sore spots, strengths, skills, and quick relief behaviors as part of the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol.
  • Begin working with your family to identify realistic goals for treatment and discharge, including family reunification, if applicable.
  • Students cannot request to move up from Welcoming until all of their 45 day diagnostic assessments have been completed.


  • Maintain safe and healthy relationships with peers and staff, utilizing support and encouragement.
  • Participate in all parts of program to the best of your ability, including taking an active role in student community meetings and group therapies.
  • Identify academic and vocational goals for yourself and participate in steps toward reaching those goals.
  • Further develop/implement a safety plan and/or begin high risk relapse prevention plan.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal and behaviors that meet the treatment objective identified in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Commit to continuing to use these skills.
  • Continue to develop skills through participation in DBT group, high risk group therapy, individual therapy, and by participating in skill coaching by staff throughout the program.
  • Continue to engage in work in the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol, and work that involves connecting quick relief behaviors to triggers and sore spots.
  • Continue family therapy process, committing to clear goals for family relationships and discharge.


  • Maintain safe and healthy relationships with peers and staff while participating fully in program.
  • Develop insight into the contributing factors, sore spots, triggers, and motivations that led to prior high risk behaviors and build these into safety and/or relapse prevention plans.
  • Be accountable for past and current high risk behaviors; make amends and utilize relapse prevention plans.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal and behaviors that meet the treatment objectives identified in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Commit to continuing to use these skills.
  • Continue to build awareness of how thoughts and feelings. Use this awareness to guide you through thoughtful decision making during situations.
  • Continue to engage in the Trauma Informed Treatment Protocol, including engaging in the process of meaning-making.
  • Continue work on academic and vocational goals, meeting IEP goals set in these areas.
  • Continue family work and discharge planning as identified through the CTP process, including work toward reunification or identified next placement.


  • Maintain safe & healthy relationships with peers & staff while participating fully in program, taking on a leadership role in the process of student community meetings, & generally serving as a “good citizen” of your team & HEC community.
  • Exhibit use safety & relapse prevention plans at all times.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal & behaviors that meet the treatment objectives in your CTP, including identifying specific skills that you have found effective. Identify ways you can support your community through the use or role-modeling of these skills.
  • Develop & practice a set of values and life goals within your home community as well as in the HEC community. Participate in academic & vocational tasks that support these goals as indicated by meeting IEP goals & any tasks assigned to meet these goals during community/home visits.
  • Participate in all discharge planning meetings & events as an active member of the treatment team.
  • Exhibit skill rehearsal & behaviors that meet the treatment objective identified in your CTP, including utilizing these skills consistently at HEC & in your home community.
  • Continue trauma treatment & the process of meaning-making.
  • Complete a community repair/restitution project, if applicable.
  • Continue in family therapy, if applicable.


  • Demonstrate safety/accountability, character, skills, understanding, and connection through all of your behaviors
  • Internalize safety and relapse prevention plans
  • Continue active participation in all parts of your discharge planning and continue monitoring its implementation
  • Mentor others, showing your skills as a leader and positive role model
  • Complete a community enhancement project
  • Educate family and/or next placement on safety and relapse prevention plans, supports needed, your skills, understandings, values, goals, and important connections.


Privileges: Each campus has a specific set of privileges for each treatment level. As you build skills and make progress in treatment, you will be showing your treatment team and your family that you are ready to manage situations with less and less support. When you need less support, you can access more privileges. The specific list of privileges for your program is included in this handbook.

 Privileges for Welcoming

–     Participate in on campus clubs (photography, magic,etc.)

–     Scheduled program activities on campus

–     Watching TV

–     Remote control cars

  • Board and card games
  • Outdoor sports (football, basketball, etc.)
  • Arts and crafts activities
  • Books, reading during free time
  • Eligible for student council committee member
  • $10 withdrawl from student checking account (students can petition for more money if they are looking for something specific)
  • Handheld electronic video games (must not have internet access or camera installed)
  • Ability to visit the GameRoom on campus
  • Eligible for on campus jobs as approved by treatment team ( no food service, maintenance or horticulture positions) Welcoming students are eligible for clerical, library and housekeeping positions
  • Eligible for 1 potted plant in their bedroom, type is at the discretion of team

**No off campus trips other than for medical reasons. **

Privileges for Commitment

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Eligible for off all campus trips as approved by treatment team (Intercampus trips, church, drumming, trail access trips from campus/adventure sports, etc.) always subject to supervisor approval
  • NYPUM eligible
  • $20 withdrawl from student checking account (students can petition for more money if they are looking for something specific)
  • Intramural sports/Traveling sports team (basketball, softball, etc.)
  • Eligible for open elected positions within the student council
  • Eligible for all jobs within the commitment level jobs in the vocational program

Privileges for Responsibility

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Half hour late bedtime- able to stay up until 9:30 Sunday through Thursday until 10pm on Friday and Saturday. If students are using late bed, they must be ready for bed at the normal bedtime so once the half hour comes by they will be ready to go into bed
  • $30 withdrawl from student checking account (students can petition for more money if they are looking for something specific)
  • All other off campus trips- trail access trips that involve departing campus to go on the trip (Kennedy Park, etc) At the discretion of supervisors
  • Can purchase a basic Kindle or Nook (e-reader that does not have internet access)
  • Eligible for applying for their Learner’s ID and photo ID’s, must be safe in order to travel for tests and approved through team meeting
  • NYPUM Support Services positions in the vocational program , eligible for attending the NYPUM rodeo and to go and watch other kids

Privileges for Community

  • All above mentioned privileges
  • Can petition for a passive pet (Beta fish in bedroom, no rocks or tank, must be in plastic bowl) NO OTHER PETS
  • $40 withdrawl from student checking account (kids can petition for more money if they are looking for something specific)
  • Art supplies in their bedrooms, Crocheting/Knitting with plastic looms and needles
  • Assistant coaching positions (basketball, flag football, softball, etc.)
  • Able to have a personal DVD player in their bedroom (no internet access)
  • $20 of their personal money able to be kept on their person
  • Can order out take out on Saturday for the amount of $10.00. Supervisors will pick the restaurant where students can order from and every student has to either order from that restaurant or pass until next week. There will not be orders from multiple restaurants!

Privileges for Leadership

  • Able to purchase TV for use in their single bedroom at team approval
  • Eligible for off campus job in the local community
  • Can petition for an individualized late bedtime
  • $50 withdrawl from student checking account (kids can petition for more money if they are looking for something specific)
  • Independent transitions with staff communication before and after student movement (this is not an automatic privilege, this is subject to review on an individual basis)
  • Eligible to participate in elections/voting in their local community
  • Use of public transportation to approved destinations such as public library, to manage bank account (this is not an automatic privilege, this is subject to supervision by HEC staff and by review on an individual basis)

** This list is a working document. Students can request additional privileges be reviewed through the campus Student Treatment and Intervention Committee**

The Medical Department & Emergency Treatment

The medical department consists of several licensed professionals who care for all students. The Medical Director is a practicing local pediatrician. Together with his nurse practitioners they are responsible for the student’s overall medical care. This includes annual and periodic examinations as well as assessment of symptoms and specialist referral when necessary. The psychiatrist examines all students on a regular basis. They receive feedback from the interdepartmental team and assess the need for medications or changes as well as consult with other members of the health care team. Nurses are available throughout the daytime hours and on call during the night. The nursing staff oversees the general health of all students, dispenses medication, and provides treatment during illness or accident. They also guide students in understanding their individual health and well-being. In addition, there is a nutritionist on staff who consults with the agency to provide assessment and assistance as needed. This includes specialized individual guidance as well as menu planning for well-balanced daily intake. The medical department works collaboratively to ensure the general welfare of each student.

Emergency Medical Treatment

While you are at Hillcrest, our medical professionals will always take good care of you. If you ever need medical treatment that our on-site nurses cannot take care of you will go with your staff to the local hospital to make sure you are healthy and safe. Depending on why you need to go to the hospital, you may be driven by staff in a Hillcrest car or van, or you may go in an ambulance. Your family or guardian will always be talked to so they know what is going on.

To Parents/Guardians:

If you child ever has a serious illness and/or a medical emergency include any medical problem requiring hospitalization or emergency room visit, which a student cannot be treated by the onsite nurse, the student will be taken to the nearest local hospital.

If the student’s condition clearly indicates that the student can be moved, the student will be transported in an agency vehicle or other approved vehicle. If there is a doubt about whether the student can or should be moved, or if a student falls from a height of more than fifteen feet, an ambulance is called. An ambulance may also be called if it is believed that the student’s safety requires ambulance transportation. A nurse on campus, supervisor or administrator will make the determination of need to call an ambulance.

In the event of major illness or emergency medical treatment, you will be notified by telephone by the nurse, administrator and/or attending physician as soon as possible. In the event that you cannot be reached immediately by telephone, a nurse or administrator may send a telegram or may contact local police, DSS, etc., depending on the nature of the illness or emergency. You will be informed of the nature or circumstances of the illness or injury and the student’s medical treatment will be explained. In life-threatening situations, where no parent/guardian is available, the physician or Hillcrest administrator will take responsibility for making medical decisions. The Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education and any other agency that is responsible for the student will be informed of the emergency hospitalization by the Program Director or designee.


Removal Against Medical Advice

If a guardian or adult client (own guardian) sign out of Hillcrest’s care against medical advice, they will be provided with numbers for a crisis hotline as well as their local DCF office, should they need support. The numbers and information are located on the AMA form that the guardian or adult client will be signing, a copy of that form should be provided to them during this process.

If a guardian is removing a client and the treatment team felt that it was a potentially abusive or neglectful situation due to high suicidal risk, Hillcrest will file a report with the child abuse/neglect hotline. If the client is their own guardian, Hillcrest will notify the crisis team directly.

HEF General Overview

General Overview of the Organization

Board of Directors

* President/CEO

* Executive Director (reports to President/CEO)

* Vice Presidents (report to Executive Director)

–   Senior VP

–   VP of Finance

–   VP of Human Resources & Workforce Learning

  • Department Heads (report to the Senior Vice President)
  • Director of Nursing
  • Director of Education & Assistant
  • Program Support /Facilities Director
  • Program Director
  • Clinical Director

Department Staff (report to Department Heads)

  • Supervisors & Assistants
  • Clinical Staff
  • Teachers
  • Nurses
  • Support Services
  • Youth Development Counselors
  • Teacher Aides
  • Related Service Providers

(* Senior Management Team Member)



Staff Positions & Services

There are many different types of staff who will be working with our students on their goals. Here is a list of staff that will be a part of your life at Hillcrest:

YDC (Youth Development Counselor): YDCs are staff that work directly with students on the dorm or in the classroom. YDC’s help the students with their daily needs, following their team schedule, and working on their skills and treatment goals. YDC’s also help students to learn the rules and expectations of Hillcrest, and find skills to use when they are stressed out or upset.

  • Supervisor (and Assistant Supervisor): Supervisors are in charge of running the campus during their shift. There is a supervisor on campus at all times, and they make sure that all the students and staff remain safe. Supervisors are here to help YDC’s, other staff, and students, as well as make sure that everything that is supposed to happen that day gets done!
  • Clinician: Clinicians work with each student, their family and the student’s social worker to make a plan for your treatment while they are at Hillcrest. They work with the students in individual, group and family therapy to help achieve treatment goals, overcoming obstacles from the past, and learning new skills for their future. They also talk with the student’s family and social worker, or other concerned adults, to make sure that they know how the student is doing, and to plan for what is next after our students leave Hillcrest.
  • Family Permanency Specialist: Family Permanency Specialists (FPS) are members of the clinical department that work with students and their families, along with the student’s clinician, to work toward family goals and family reunification. The FPS will help schedule home visits, family visits to campus, and will offer skill coaching sessions to practice skills at home as part of the family’s goals and in preparation for reunification. The FPS also provides regular updates to families and to get the family’s input on treatment interventions.
  • Teacher: Teachers at Hillcrest work with our students to help meet specific educational goals. They also help each student, their family, and school district with understanding how our students learn, and what their needs are in school and to keep track of academic progress.
  • TA (Teacher Assistant): Teacher Assistants are assigned to a classroom and work with that classroom’s teacher to help each student meet their educational goals. TA’s also help to give extra support to students in the classroom when they need it, and help the teacher to keep the classroom running smoothly.
  • Nurse: Nurses are on campus during daytime hours and on call during the night. Nurses oversee the general health of all students. They also give students their medication, and provides treatment if a student is sick or hurt. They also help students learn about their individual health and well-being.
  • Psychiatrist: The psychiatrist meets with all students on a regular basis. They receive feedback from a team of staff and assess the need for medications or changes. They also work other members of the health care team if the student or the team have questions or concerns about your medical needs.
  • Nutritionist: The nutritionist works with the nurses and cooks to provide a well-balanced diet for all students. They help the students who need special guidance with the food they eat to be healthy.
  • Cook: The cooks prepare nutritional meals and snacks for the staff and students at your campus. Sometimes this can mean more than 100 people a day!
  • Speech-Language Therapist: These are specialized therapists that work with students who need extra help with speech and language skills. If a student had speech-language before coming to Hillcrest, they will probably continue to receive these services. The Speech-Language Therapist works with students during the school day, usually in their classroom.

12) Assistant Director of Clinical Services: This person is a member of the  administrative team on   campus. They supervise all the clinical staff in the treatment that every student receives on campus to ensure treatment goals are appropriate, and that all clinicians are meeting the needs of the students and their families.

13) Program Director: This person is responsible for the oversight and operation of the entire program. The Director ensures the security and well-being of our students and staff while operating a safe program.


Student Rights & Responsibilities


1) The right to receive treatment.

2) The right to three meals a day and decent, appropriate clothing.

3) The right to a clean and safe environment.

4) The right to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

5) The right not to be discriminated against.

6) The right to education that provides preparation for living.

7) The right to information about safe sex and communicable diseases.

8) The right to adequate health and medical care, and the promotion of healthy and wholesome recreation.

9) The right to know program values and expectations.




1) The responsibility to fully participate in the treatment plan process.

2) The responsibility to cooperate with medical care, medication regimen and  recommendations.

3) The responsibility to know campus values and expectations and be accountable if they do not follow them     .

4) The responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.

5) The responsibility to make staff aware of any problems.

6) The responsibility to participate in keeping the environment clean and orderly.

7) The responsibility to keep themselves clean and maintain proper personal hygiene.

8) The responsibility to treat others with respect, dignity, and fairness.

9) The responsibility to not participate in or promote discrimination against others.


Important Notes

The HEC program I am in is:

Highpoint Program

242 West Mountain Road

Lenox, MA 01240


My Residential team is: ______________________________

The program’s phone number is (413) 637-2845

My Clinician’s name is ______________________________________________.

His/her telephone extension is Extension_________________________.

His/her supervisor’s name is ______________________________.

His/her supervisor’s telephone extension is Extension ___________.

The Program Director’s name is ________________________________________.

His/her telephone extension is Extension__________________________.

The telephone extension for the Nurse’s Office is Extension _______________.

ABA Treatment Philosophy

Applied Behavior Analysis

For many of its students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hillcrest utilizes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based practice that has proven to have a positive effect on the lives of people with severe forms of Autism. Using ABA, staff provide individualized instruction that is integrated throughout the school and residential program. This instruction will help students learn new skills in a variety of domains including, but not limited to, education, socialization, self-care, communication, and life skills. All ABA programming is overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Skills Assessment and Development

Developing a comprehensive understanding of each individual, their strengths and challenges, and the specific influences to their difficulties is a primary and ongoing component of assessment and treatment. Through this process a thorough understanding of strengths, resources and limitations is acquired and a plan to help develop skills and resources while not overwhelming one’s resources can be initiated.

The core skills that are focused upon throughout all HEC campuses include: independent living/functional skills, academic skills, and self-monitoring skills.

Trauma Informed Care (TIC)

When the environment is very overwhelming, as is often the case when a person experiences trauma, attachment disruption, loss, domestic violence or abuse, the result can be significant impact on the development of the person’s skills and resources. Exposure to those who have experienced these events has impact on others in the community.   A trauma informed environment requires an understanding of trauma and considers its effects, at the personal, individual, and societal levels.

As trauma and loss are, at their core, violations of interpersonal connection, the HEC community focuses on developing healthy relationships with others.   Within these healthy relationships, motivation, healthy sense of self and connections to others and the community are developed. Other primary intervention approaches from the TIC philosophy include psycho-education about trauma/vicarious trauma and its effects, understanding the influence of individual trauma histories, making meaning from these difficult experiences, developing self-awareness, developing skills and resources to manage more effectively, and proactively planning for safety.

Students in the ASD program do not participate in the Trauma Informed Care treatment model unless their cognitive and communication abilities allow them to successfully participate in this talk therapy based treatment approach.   Participation in such a process would be based upon an individual student’s trauma history and their previous success or difficulties with such a process.   Participation would also be based upon the current treatment team’s assessment of the child’s ability to participate in the process.   At times, when appropriate, procedures may be modified to fit the student’s current functioning level.  

Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Support Plan Process

The goal of the assessment process is to identify the purpose or function of, or variables that maintain challenging behaviors exhibited by a student. These behaviors can place the individual and others around him /her at varying levels of risk and interfere with the acquisition of new skills.

The Behavior Analyst, Clinical assistant, or other clinical staff will initiate the process of conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment. Those trained in this process along with designees will collect information and data related to the individual that will contribute to the complete functional assessment process for that child.

See the following paragraphs for FBA and Behavior Support Plan preparation


The Behavior Support Plan is a comprehensive document designed based on the individual needs of each student. These documents are created based on the results of Functional Behavior Assessments completed at intake and are then updated regularly throughout the course of the student’s treatment based on their progress and ongoing assessment.

The 5 components that make up an effective Behavior Support Plan include:

  1. Ecological Management Arrangements- Includes environmental arrangements necessary to make challenging behaviors less likely to occur and replacement behaviors more likely to occur.
  2. Behaviors for Decrease- Includes behaviors identified by the treatment team that are interfering with the child’s ability to participate in their daily life safely and effectively.
  3. Replacement Behaviors- Includes behaviors identified by the treatment team that are socially acceptable and functionally related to his behaviors for decrease. These behaviors may also be incompatible with the behaviors targeted for decrease.
  4. Antecedent Strategies- These include function based procedures for staff to follow throughout the child’s day to help make the behaviors targeted for decrease less likely to occur.
  5. Consequential Strategies- These include the function based procedures for staff to follow when the child begins to engage in any of the behaviors targeted for decrease.

Each Hillcrest Behavior Support Plan also contains a Basic Information section for each student, including their Clinician’s name, Teacher’s name, common antecedents for maladaptive behaviors, primary communication method, and approved emergency procedures. The creation of all Behavior Support Plans is overseen by Board Certified Behavior Analysts.