Adolescence is a time of change and uncertainty. Some teens face struggles concerning behavior, mental health and academics, for which they need special attention. Unfortunately, income disparities cause teens that need the most help to have the least access to high quality resources. Poverty discrimination must be addressed to help struggling teens on a larger scale. However, there are resources in the form of schools and programs that offer help to struggling teens from low income families.

Types of Programs

Troubled teens fall into many categories. Some have trouble in school but others may have more serious substance abuse and behavioral problems. There are many different types of programs, ranging from short to long-term that can help address the issues your teen is facing. Your local mental health center can help you find access to various low or no-cost programs. Specialty boarding schools provide long-term educational opportunities for students with emotional and behavioral problems. These schools help students through character building and behavioral modification programs. Boot camps are another option, providing high intensity military-style discipline for troubled teens. Some are state-run, while others are privately operated. A wilderness treatment program typically lasts four to eight weeks in rugged outdoor environments, providing therapy and enrichment activities. Residential treatment centers offer both long and short-term programs involving therapy and education.

Upward Bound

The Upward Bound program located in Shasta County, Calif., encourages low income teens to pursue a college education. Specifically targeting students whose parents did not attend college, they provide high school teens the opportunity to take university courses. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant. High school students have the opportunity to live in dorms, receive computer instruction and apply for financial aide in an environment that encourages the pursuit of higher education.

Girard College

Located in Philadelphia, Penn., Girard College is a private boarding school that awards full scholarships to qualifying students from low income families. High school teens who have demonstrated academic promise but come from families where one or both parents have proven financial need may qualify. However, this is not a behavior modification program. Students cannot have behavioral problems. Teens living with grandparents, relatives or foster parents may also qualify.

Eagle Rock School

Eagle Rock School provides personalized learning for students, ages 15 to 17 in Colorado. Students who are struggling in their current school setting are nominated through participating school districts and communities. A strong adult sponsor is needed; however, students who qualify can attend Eagle Rock School tuition-free.

Job Corps

With 118 Job Corps centers located throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Job Corps offers job training and support to teens, ages 16 to 24. Job Corp is the largest residential and educational job training program in the nation.

National Guard Challenge Program

At-risk high school dropouts may qualify for the National Guard Challenge Program. During a five month residential phase, students learn community service, life-coping, health, hygiene and leadership skills, in addition to physical training and earning their GED. Following the residential phase, students build a year-long mentoring relationship with a specially trained member of their community.

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