When families call to see if Venture Academy can help their troubled youth, they always want to tell their story and it’s always a story of desperation, says executive director Gordon Hay.
Many have tried all kinds of other treatment programs to no avail.
Gordon launched Venture Academy 13 years ago after recognizing a tremendous need for a clinically comprehensive, residential treatment program for youth in Canada.
“Parents have had a history of sending their kids to the U.S.,” for this particular kind of residential treatment, Gordon says.
Venture Academy operates as what Gordon calls a social-mission business. The organization’s No. 1 priority is to help troubled teens make and sustain positive changes.
The business model seems to have been the right choice for Venture Academy, both in terms of speed of development and effectiveness, Gordon says.
“All I wanted to do was provide services for a client population that I thought needed Venture Academy,” he says.
Venture Academy is unique in Canadian youth social services for its fee-for-service model.
“The expectations that come with that private-pay model are, in my opinion, much greater,” Gordon says.
“With us, the stakes are much higher. (Parents) expect results.
“It’s a very high-demand service-delivery model.” But he would have it no other way, he adds. Venture Academy has been able to generate significant results in terms of realizing its social mission or purpose.
Launched first in Kelowna, B.C., Venture Academy has served hundreds of families from across the country. A Barrie campus was opened in 2009, due to high demand from families in Ontario and Eastern Canada for the program, Gordon says.
Distinguishing elements of the program include its comprehensive 30 Day Assessment and Intervention program, its environment, an individualized treatment plan and a host-family model, which has youth stay each night with trained Venture Academy staff where they have the chance to “practise” at being part of a healthy family dynamic.