Month: August 2021

Meet Jayden

Meet Jayden

When five-year-old Jayden entered ACH’s Behavioral Care program, he was dealing with extreme behavior issues and trauma stemming from entering foster care due to parental neglect.

At first, staff described Jayden as being high needs with toddler-like behaviors. He had trouble managing his emotions and would often become aggressive to get attention. Jayden also had issues with trying to run away to his mother.

“When you have someone who is so young and has experienced so much trauma, it’s hard to help him understand there are other ways to handle emotions,” said Kaitlyn Smith, Behavioral Care Supervisor.

For so long, Jayden learned certain techniques on how to survive while living with his mom and then in foster care, but those were unhealthy tools. During his stay, the staff taught him how to express his needs in a healthy way.

A Family Approach

Behavioral Care serves kids, ages 4-12, with moderate to severe behavior challenges. This short-term residential therapy program provides a safe and structured environment that teaches adaptive behaviors and supports successful child development.

Behavioral Care is unique because it is set up in a home-like setting with a family feel, where the kids get to participate in normal activities like decorating their bedrooms and celebrating their birthdays.

“We get to know the kid and look past the behavior,” said Kaitlyn. “In a psych hospital, they are there to manage behavior and we are here to love the kid.”

During his stay, Jayden was able to accurately identify his emotions and his escalations became much shorter. He learned to gain control of his impulsivity.

ACH’s Behavioral Care program is located at ACH’s Wedgwood Residential Campus in Southwest Fort Worth and is home to residential programs like the Morris Program, as well as crisis intervention programs like Summit and Turning Point.

“In a psych hospital, they are there to manage behavior. We are here to love the kid.” —ACH Supervisor Kaitlyn Smith

“If he was feeling overwhelmed, he would tell staff he needs to go to his room because he needs a reset and calm down,” said Kaitlyn. “It was awesome to watch him identify his behaviors and big emotions and know what to do about it.”

One of Jayden’s biggest areas of concern was him jumping and running on the dinner tables. As a natural consequence, staff told Jayden that he had to wipe down the table if he gets on it.

“It only took him two to three times and he never did it again,” said Kaitlyn. “He learned that his actions had consequences and he learned other ways to get our attention.”

Staff eventually got to see Jayden’s personality come out, including his incredible humor. He even began to show empathy for the other children in the program.

Working Together

Most of the children who arrive at Behavioral Care are in foster care or will transition into foster care. The program encourages family reunification whenever possible and ACH staff work with the parents to ensure long-term success after the kids graduate from the program.

“When the parents are in the picture, it is so important that they too are a part of the healing process,” said Kaitlyn.

For Jayden, he would be going home to his birth mother. She had a history of drug use and worked hard to become sober to raise Jayden.

Staff provided Jayden’s mom with an individualized parenting class to teach her strategies that worked best for Jayden while he was in Behavioral Care.

“We gave her techniques on how to connect with Jayden, how to empower him, and how to correct his behaviors in a way that is beneficial for everyone,” said Kaitlyn.

They also empowered her as a mother and reminded her she is not alone—individualized support she might not have gotten from another program or hospital.  

Toward the end of Jayden’s 11-month stay in Behavioral Care, Kaitlyn said she was not only proud of his progress, but his mom’s as well.

“The coolest thing I got to do is encourage her in her journey,” said Kaitlyn.

If you would like to support the children and parents in our Behavioral Care program, ACH offers many ways to get involved. To get started, visit

Spreading Joy in LIFE

ACH Young Adult Arranges Special Celebrations for Peers

In ACH’s LIFE Project, our staff is dedicated to providing care, support, and most importantly, love to the youth in our programs. When we see the youth in our care share that same love with their peers, it’s an especially proud moment for our staff.

K, a young lady in LIFE, took the initiative to plan birthday parties and special celebrations for her peers in the program. When K first arrived in LIFE, the staff threw her a birthday party. She held onto that happy feeling and wanted to be a part of planning those celebrations for the other youth.

“I thought I should do the same for other people to make them feel this good, too,” said K.

K takes the time to meet with staff and plan out all the details. With each celebration, K makes sure to find out what each person likes and the activities they enjoy.

 “The older you get, the less you care about your birthday,” said K. “This is their special moment.”

Creating Memories

For many of the youth in LIFE, the first birthday they celebrate in the program is the first birthday they’ve ever celebrated.  

“Many of our girls come from different backgrounds and have different interests – but these are times that bring us together,” said Cassie Morgan, LIFE Project Mentor. “Watching them use their gifts and contribute is just amazing.”

K’s generosity and hard work also extend to the volunteer mentors who participate in activities with the young adults in LIFE. During volunteer appreciation week, K met with the youth in LIFE and led a project to create gift bags for each mentor.

“It felt good because they always do stuff for us,” said K. “They don’t have to come, and they do. I just wanted to do something special for them.”

What is LIFE?

ACH’s LIFE (Learning Independence from Experience) Project is a program that builds self-confidence and self-sufficiency in young adults ages 18 to 21 who are homeless or are in extended foster care. Young adults who are on their own are given guidance and support in developing life skills—such as applying to college, entering the workforce, and preparing to live independently.

K, a young adult in ACH’s LIFE Project has been throwing birthday parties and celebrations for her peers in the program. 

Reflection of Growth

According to ACH Staff Mentor Stephanie Henry, the thoughtfulness and care K has shown to her peers in the LIFE project reflects one of the many leadership skills she has developed at ACH.

“K has grown significantly in the past year since coming to the LIFE program,” said Stephanie. “She has grown in knowledge of cooking, learned how to take better care of herself and how to garden.”

While planning the events is fun for K, her favorite moment is when she reveals the surprise.

“I love seeing their faces,” said K. “They always look so happy, and that makes me happy.”

Support K in creating special moments for the youth in ACH’s LIFE Project, by getting involved at ACH today!

K helps prepare food for her and her peers in The LIFE Project.