Copper Hills Interview

Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Parenting Adopted Teens | 0 comments

The following post includes written responses from the staff of Copper Hills to questions pertaining to their treatment program. If you would like more information about Copper Hills, you can check out their website at Or you can call 80 776-7116.

Q: What is your total capacity?

A: We have capacity for 165 students.

Q: Grade/Age Levels?

A: We serve students aged 12 through the 17th year. Because we serve students with IQ’s as low as 60, it is difficult to state specific grade levels. Our students have a variety of academic abilities. Some of our students are learning basic academic skills and some are preparing for college.


Q: Average length of stay?

A: For our female and male Behavioral Misconduct Programs, the average length of stay is 6 – 9 months. Average length of stay in our Male Autism Spectrum Disorder Program is 12 months.

Q: Class size and supports in the classroom?

A: Class size is dictated by the best interest of the educational directive and the terms of school/SELPA contract as well.

Classroom supports include:

  • Core staff members who work with our students, understand their needs and difficulties, and manage behavioral crises. These individuals are in addition to the teachers in each class.
  • Sensory break
  • Use of different materials for learning
  • Teachers who are trained and experienced with special education needs.
  • Behavioral support programs, such as the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
  • Extra times on tests when needed
  • Peer tutors in class if requested
  • Individual tutoring outside of class by teachers as necessary

Q: Licensure and accreditation of school?

A: The Joint Commission (TJC)

  • Accredited by AdvancEd (formerly known as the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools)
  • Licensed by Utah Department of Human Services
  • Our school is also certified by the CA Department of Education as a non-public school

Q: Daily hours of instruction?

A: Students attend four core academic classes a day – social studies, English/reading, math and science. They also received credit for P.E. and a Life Skills class each school term. We offer 330 instructional minutes per day including P.E. and Life Skills. (Life Skills elective credit is awarded for therapeutic groups, Recreation Therapy groups, and MHA facilitated groups.)

Q: School Administrator’s credentials and clinical staff licenses?

A: Elizabeth Loy- Credentials – Master of Special Education and Master of Educational Administration. Level II license with the Utah State Office of Education.  All therapists are Masters level clinicians and must have an active license in the state of Utah.

Q: Method of instruction (direct instruction versus independent study) ?

A: We provide direct instruction. We rely on multiple methods of instruction. We use whole group learning, cooperative learning, experiential learning, multi-sensory teaching method as well as guided practice.

Q: How many of your students are special education students on IEP’s, on average?

A: Our student population ranges from 57% to 66% classified as special education students. Our average for the past five months has been 64%.

Q: What is the curriculum used in classrooms?

A: We use Reading Horizons for our lowest skilled readers. Our other curriculum in approved by the Utah State Office of Education. We use materials from McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin and Prentice Hall.

Q: What types of residents are you serving? What are their behaviors, diagnosis, etc.?

A: We provide services for adolescents with psychiatric disorders with or without substance abuse.   Examples of diagnoses and behaviors include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Severe mood swings
  • Extreme oppositional or defiant responses to peers and/or parents
  • Explosiveness or uncontrolled rages of anger
  • Evidence of substance abuse or dependency
  • Self-harming
  • Suicidal ideations, threats or attempts
  • Inability to control aggressiveness, cruelty and physical acting out
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Runaway behaviors
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Destruction of property
  • Lying, covert behavior, stealing

Q: How many of your students are adopted?

A: It is common for many of our students to have experienced disruption and inconsistency in caregivers including adoption, foster care, and extended family members for varying periods of time.

Q: Do you offer any special groups for adopted individuals?

A: Within group therapy life events such as being adopted, going to new treatment centers, or other less typical “traumas” are still identified as their own form of trauma/struggle that can create difficulties in functioning/life.

Q: How are the students funded? Private pay? Do you provide scholarships?

A: Funding comes from a variety of sources including private pay, private insurance, commercial insurance, Medicaid, government single case agreements, Adoption Assistance Program and school districts/SELPA’s. We do not provide scholarships at this time.

Q: Are you privately owned, how are you funded?

A: We maintain a non-profit designationl.

Q: What specific skills do the students learn to cope with their behavior (DBT, CBT, for example)

A: Specific skill sets include:

CBT and Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS). SPARCS is a trauma-informed evidenced-based practice that combines DBT, mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal social skills, and grief and loss work.

Q: What is the clinical or theoretical focus of your program? Do you have any specific treatment methods or modalities that you follow?

A: We are a trauma-informed care facility. We utilize SPARCS (Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress), DDP (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy) and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

We also have therapists who are trained in a variety of other treatment modalities for individualized treatment

Q Does your program have level or phases, please describe.

A: We have a 5-phase model of increasing student responsibility and privilege. The 5 phases are: Observer, Explorer, Apprentice, Leader and Guide. The goal of this phase program is to continually move the student forward through the phases with less backsliding. A phase drop or losing a phase is based on safety concerns. There are phase privilege freezes for behaviors that are concerning but not safety based.

Q: Is your program orientated towards a behavioral or relational model? Please give an example of how staff intervenes to modify a student’s behavior.

A: CHYC uses both behavioral and relational interventions. Behavioral interventions can include a phase loss or phase privileges being frozen. Relational interventions include staff being trained in Verbal De-Escalation (VDE), SPARCS, and DDP skills to intervene on the milieu level. In addition, staff learn skills such as PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy) to communicate and address behavioral concerns in a way that invites the student to be a part of the process of changing his or her               behaviors.

Q: How do you handle crisis during the school day (assaults, disruptions, etc.)

A: For less significant crises, staff will help the student emotionally regulate, process, and rejoin the class. For more significant crises, such as aggression, a student is returned to his or her living unit to deescalate; he or she will remain in the living unit until such time as he or she can be safely returned to the milieu community.

Any significant crisis is reported to the multi-disciplinary treatment team to provide for and evaluate the needs of the student.

Q: How often do the residents have therapy, individual and group?

A: We provide 1 hour of individual therapy, 1 hour of family therapy, and 2 or more hours of group therapy weekly. A minimum of 4 hours of recreational therapy is also provided

Q: How many home visits are offered and when?

A: Home visits are set up after discussion and agreement of the CHYC treatment team and the referring treatment team members. Typically, we like                  to see a successful visit in Utah prior to a home pass, although this is not always the case. CHYC can pay for 1 visit per quarter.

Q: Do you involve families in your treatment goals? What commitments do they need to make. What kinds of weekend seminars/therapy sessions do they sign up for?

A: Yes. Parents play an integral role in the success of their child’s treatment. Parents are involved in the treatment plan development, which is reviewed each month and updated/revised as needed. Additionally, it is most effective when parents can participate in weekly family therapy via phone/video conference.

Q: What happens if a student tries to run?

If the staff feels that a student is at risk of elopement, they may be placed on precaution, which allows for increased safety through heightened supervision, structure, and support. This precaution is reviewed daily to determine continued concerns and need, as well as identify when a student has demonstrated safety to no longer need the precautionary status.

Q: Is there high turnover in residents and staff?

A: Students admit and graduate the program throughout the year as they achieve their goals. Staff turnover is much lower than the industry standard            for our level of care.

Q: What do you see as the program’s greatest strength?

A: Well-trained and caring staff. Evidenced-based programming. Award-winning recreation therapy program. Year-round CA certified non-public school. Resident Team Meetings. Special Education Teachers. Resident Advisory Council. Monthly team treatment meetings. 24/7 nursing. Our Family Bridge program allows parents and students more frequent communication. We pay for parents to visit their child once a quarter.

Q: What do you see as the program’s limitations?

A: Due to the success of our programs, on occasion we will have a waiting list.

Q: Describe your method of transition preparation and planning with the student, the parents, and the treatment team.

A: Transition planning is discussed with the entire treatment team (i.e., Copper Hills and the referring treatment team) to determine what is the best transition plan, identify what supports are needed, and how to access appropriate after-care services to offer the most effective and smooth transition possible. Students are informed of their transition planning during their monthly treatment reviews.

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