Being a kid can be tough – especially when your daily surroundings are influenced by socio-economic factors, poor access to proper nutrition, lack of adult supervision, and trauma. There is a place where youth can go where they can feel safe, get help, and learn new skills to increase their chances of success in their home, school, and community. That place is The Kauffman House!
The Kauffman House (formerly known as Shelter Care) is an 8-bed community-based residential facility that serves both male and female youth between the ages of 10-17. The Kauffman House is licensed by the State of Wisconsin under Wisconsin Administrative Code DHS 59. The program is fully funded through a contract with Kenosha County to provide short-term programming to youth in the community including crisis stabilization services to youth experiencing a mental health crisis and youth who are court-ordered to the facility. While in the program, specially trained crisis intervention staff work with youth to reduce or eliminate symptomology and help them transition to lesser restrictive placements, if possible. The Kauffman House uses several theoretical models of care that include Bowen’s Family System, Social Learning Theory, the Belonging Theory, Erickson’s Stages of Development, and the Teaching Family Model. The Kauffman House takes a trauma-informed approach to working with youth to teach basic skills that can change their lives for the better.
Kauffman House only accepts youth who have been referred from within the County. Referral sources include the Kenosha County Circuit Court, the Kenosha County Division of Human Services, and Juvenile Intake Services. In cases of crisis stabilization, respite care, or voluntary placements, youth can be referred to the program after being screened by a Juvenile Crisis worker.
Many of the youth who enter the program have experienced trauma, which has a profound impact on a multitude of areas of function. The Kauffman House staff work with young people who have significant mental health, cognitive, or behavioral concerns, as well as youth who have experienced child abuse or neglect. Many of the individuals also have a history of family trouble, running away, and/or truancy.
While the Kauffman House is fully committed to providing the same level of care and supervision to all youth regardless of their history, the program does assess each youth for their appropriateness for the program. In some situations, an individual may not be accepted into the program if their behaviors pose a significant threat to others, or if they need a higher level of care than can be provided at the Kauffman House. A risk assessment will be completed for every youth entering the program. The length of stay varies for each person depending on the reason why and how they are placed there.
The house is staffed 24 hours per day and has overnight awake staff to ensure the safety of all who stay there. There are Five Basic Skills taught to all youth who come to Kauffman House: Greeting Skills, Following Instructions, Asking Permission, Accepting “No” for an Answer, and Accepting Feedback. We believe that these five basic skills can help youth no matter what situation they are in.
Though only there for a short time, we believe that all youth can leave the program with skills that will positively impact their futures. During their stay, youth will not only have their basic needs met but will also receive unconditional positive regard from the staff who interact with them. The overall goal is to help youth identify triggers and skill deficits that are negatively impacting their life and replace those with behaviors that will help them succeed and build positive self-esteem. This can be done through a structured program that includes educational components, family-style interactions, group work, skill-building, community volunteerism, physical activity, and exposure to the community.
Kauffman House staff are dedicated to helping youth work through their issues and return home knowing how to better face obstacles that may be in their way. Named for Dick Kauffman, a long-time dedicated trainer and leader at KHDS who always believed in the power of skills teaching, Kauffman House carried on his legacy with each youth that crosses the threshold.