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Building Bridges Initiative

Building Bridges Initiative

St. Mary's proudly leads the way transforming residential treatment in Rhode Island through our commitment and implementation of the national Building Bridges Initiative.

Old Way of Thinking
Our Way of Thinking
Children and youth live in residential for long periods of time.

Our residential treatment is an intervention, not a destination. It is short-term, and services are provided in the community and on campus.

Services focus on the child, not the family. We provide services to the whole family, including a Parent Support Partner dedicated to supporting the parent during the difficult time their child is not at home 24/7.
Professionals are the decision makers. Our youth and parents sit at the table with us and other team members to make decisions. The court or proper authorities do make legal decisions, but we never make a decision without including the youth and their family each step of the way.
Changes take place for the child/youth. Changes takes place for the family.
Kids in care just have to follow the rules. Our youth help establish the rules. They are empowered and run a Youth Council. Some participate in the interview process for potential residential employees. The Youth Council participates in setting agency policy, and training staff. Our children and youth don’t like being called kids, and their voices are heard!
Visits are "earned" or "allowed" or "privilege". Parents and their children should be together as often as possible. We provide support and coaching to both through difficult times, not keep them separated. We meet parents to participate in activities in the community, provide bus vouchers so they can come to campus, have regular family nights on campus and encourage sleep-overs at home whenever possible.
We know better. Parents and youth know best. We work with families where they are, and build on their strengths to help them create safe environments so their children return home.
Older teens will enter independent living after residential. We actively seek relatives, natural supports or community members to become life-long support for older teens who may live independently, or who may live with the connection made in our program.
Services end at discharge. Families choose up to three services that we provide in our Aftercare Program, for up to six months after discharge from the campus residential intervention.
Services are eventually transferred to another agency. Even after the 6 month Aftercare Program, our clients can remain involved with St. Mary’s through our home based or office based programs. We offer services from weekly therapy and case management support to intensive home based programs.


As you see, our residential program is not traditional and is different from past experiences. We rely on the expertise of family and/or natural supports, and provide services in the home, community and on campus from initial contact through discharge. We provide an Aftercare Program, with up to six months of services – which the family chooses - in the home or a foster home. All residents and families work with their Milieu Staff, Clinician, Nurses, Teachers and Teacher Assistants, Psychiatrist and other teams members who are available right here on campus for support, including 24/7 On Call availability to parents. Additionally, at St. Mary’s residential intervention, everyone receives additional services from a Family Liaison, and Parent Support Partner (through our partnership with the Parent Support Network [PSN] a non-profit organization of individuals who have personal experience with children with behavioral health challenges).

Please contact us for more detailed information about our program and how we are practicing the Building Bridges Initiative. For more information about the national Building Bridges Initiative itself, see



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