Helping youths

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Other than the sign on North Sprigg Street, most people don't know much about Cottonwood Children's Residential Treatment Center or what it does. Recently, the center celebrated receiving accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. Martha Cassel, the facility's administrator, described the recognition as the "gold standard."

The center's young residents are there because of their mental-health issues and behavioral problems. Their parents know what the center does, how it provides structure and guidance and learning. At the center, children who would otherwise be unable to cope in normal school settings have opportunities to learn and ask questions and develop skills.

One guest speaker who spent a couple of hours with the youngsters and Cottonwood staff members described the experience as "one of the most amazing two hours I've ever had with children." The students were bright, inquisitive and, thanks to careful coaching, well-mannered and orderly.

Staff members at Cottonwood know what the center does. They are dedicated to helping troubled youngsters overcome their difficulties. It takes special people to cope with these youths, and Cottonwood staff members do it with the right mix of grace and firmness.

What makes the new accreditation extra-special is the fact that just a couple of short years ago the center was about to be closed due to lack of state funding. But the staff, parents and local legislators rallied on Cottonwood's behalf to keep it open.

For the 32 children who benefit from Cottonwood, having the facility is good. Having an accredited facility is even better. Congratulations to everyone who made it possible.

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