2019 Grant Recipient Update: Crossroads for Youth and Teacher’s Pet – Kids and Dogs Healing Together

Today’s progress update comes from 2019 Grant Recipient Crossroads for Youth and Teacher’s Pet with their Kids and Dogs Healing Together program. 

Crossroads for Youth (CFY) is a nonprofit that provides residential treatment services to youth from all across the state. It utilizes emotional, psychological healing programs for the youth, many of whom are affected by neglect and/or abuse. Founded in 2005, Teacher’s Pet (TP) is a non-profit organization that pairs hard to adopt rescue dogs with at-risk youth for a 10-week training program. The youth learn to train the dogs on simple obedience to aid in their adoptability. The two organizations have been working together since 2009 on a part-time basis, and are collaborating again for the Kids and Dogs Healing Together program.

The program is an animal-assisted therapeutic model designed to assist the youth in improving emotional regulation skills, self confidence, and socialization skills. CFY has approximately 25-30 youth living fulltime on their campus receiving full time therapeutic and educational services, all interested youth will be able to participate in the program. The ultimate goal is to provide the program to the community as well. The shelter dogs directly benefit and the program dogs have an 80% adoption rate.

As of recently, Crossroads has used their funds for extensive modification to create a classroom in one building and a dog training center in the other; including interior modifications and additional electrical heat. They have also purchased fencing for the dogs, a new vehicle to transport the dogs from the kennel to CFY, compensation for staff working the program and other equipment necessary to keep the building running all year. 

Looking forward, Crossroads is planning on reaching out to local middle and high schools in the fall with the hope of fostering partnerships for a type of afterschool dog program. They also plan to continue to modify a pre-existing cabin and transform it into a small kennel for the dogs, allowing the dogs to stay on CFY grounds full time. This would provide more opportunities’ for therapeutic/vocational programming for CFY residents.

Although COVID presented setbacks and there have been challenges locating builders willing to do the remodeling, CFY has found success and fulfillment every time a youth is able to work with one of their at-risk dogs. To all participants, this program has deepened the therapeutic impact of the residential treatment program while at Crossroads for Youth.