Crittenton Services, Inc. holds graduation celebration

WHEELING – Crittenton Services, Inc. operates an on-grounds alternative school, in conjunction with Ohio County Schools, offering vital educational services and credit recovery to its residents, many of whom have fallen behind in the traditional classroom setting. Some of Crittenton’s girls attend Bridge Street Middle School and Wheeling Park High School.

“Education is a key part of helping our clients in achieving our mission at Crittenton, self-sufficiency. Without it, our girls couldn’t change their own lives and futures. Our classroom is a nurturing environment, offering them the safety, security and attention they deserve,” said Beverly Petrelli, Chief Operating Officer.

This school year, five residents graduated high school, five graduated eighth grade, and two passed their GED.

Crittenton held a graduation celebration at Bridge Street Middle School in June, with the assistance of the Crittenton Cares Volunteer Program’s volunteers.

Crittenton Services, Inc. is a trauma-informed behavioral health agency serving more than 650 young women, children and families from all 55 counties of West Virginia. A comprehensive continuum of care is provided through four distinct programs-a fifth program, transitional living, begins this spring.

Crittenton’s residential program is the only licensed maternity care treatment facility in the state. It is designed for girls 12-18. While the program specializes in the needs of pregnant/parenting young women, up to 30% of clients are neither, but are referred to Crittenton because of the gender-specific, trauma-informed environment and treatment. They are young women with all the vulnerabilities of the adolescent, experienced through the lens of abuse, neglect, sexual assault, mental illness and addiction.

Wellspring Family Services is a home-based, outpatient counseling service. Wellspring operates in 18 counties, with five regional offices in Wheeling, Weirton, New Martinsville, Parkersburg and Morgantown. Currently, more than 550 clients (children, families and individuals) rely on the community-based program. As an in-home, outpatient service, it is a supportive, professional resource for those who might otherwise struggle with mental illness and addiction in isolation.

The Intensive Educational Outpatient program (IOP) bridges the environment of the residential program with the in-home services of Wellspring. Eligible young women in Ohio County spend the school day in the residential classroom, which is designed to meet behavioral mental health needs. Afternoons and evenings are time for in-home therapy with a Wellspring therapist.

Crittenton’s Cradles to Crayons Child Care Center offers infant and toddler care at its Elm Grove and Wheeling Park High School sites. Before and after care for school-aged children programs operate at Woodsdale , Steenrod and Middle Creek Elementary Schools. Middle Creek care includes children enrolled in the universal pre-kindergarten program.

The transitional living program is a step closer to independent living for young mothers, aged 17 or older, who are no longer eligible for traditional residential programs. In the state of West Virginia, there are less than 50 beds available for all young people who are “aging out” of traditional residential programs.

Recognizing the critical need for the program, Crittenton has purchased a home in Elm Grove. Extensive renovations include electrical, plumbing and fire safety improvements, as well the addition of a second bathroom. The house will accommodate up to six residents.

The program is the first of its kind in West Virginia: fully licensed, trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and specific for pregnant or parenting young women. The program will follow the evidence-based Transition to Independence Process (TIP) model. The TIP model engages young in women in planning for the future, utilizing culturally sensitive and gender appropriate developmental services. Each young woman will be employed and/or enrolled in education or vocational training.

Transitional living is a “next step,” a step taken with supportive accompaniment. The availability of Wellspring Family Services and Cradles to Crayons Child Care offers encouragement and structure.

For more information on Crittenton Services, Inc. and its programs, go to florencecrittenton.net.