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Benchmark anniversaries often spark thoughts of remembrance and reflection. As KidsPeace continues to celebrate our 140th anniversary in 2022, we recognize inspirations and initiatives responsible for the growth of our Continuum of Care, which provides a path forward to expand our services and treatment offered to youth, families and communities. 

One such initiative was our decision to become a certified provider under TRICARE, the health care program covering military-connected families. KidsPeace is now in our 10th year providing TRICARE-certified adolescent residential and in-patient hospitalization services to military-involved youth.

Key individuals responsible for the delivery of TRICARE-certified care and treatment 10 years ago continue to be involved in programming for military-involved youth and families., “At the start, TRICARE-certification was viewed as a new opportunity for us to offer treatment to youth and families who had a military background, and we were of course excited to become a service provider,” said Alice Kwiatkowski, Program Director for the Inventor Center at KidsPeace’s Orchard Hills Campus in Orefield, PA.

Initially, the Orchard Hills Campus had only one center consisting of two TRICARE-certified residences, with one serving females and the other males. Although providing care and treatment to military-involved youth was new for KidsPeace, individual experiences and connection to the military were not. 

“My father was in the Air Force during Korea and then was in the Air National Guard for the remainder of his service career which spanned close to 30 years,” Kwiatkowski said. “Service to others was instilled as a value and I believe that it was through seeing the pride my father had in his career and in his service, that guided me toward my choice to work for KidsPeace.”

In providing TRICARE-certified care and treatment, KidsPeace has been part of many success stories for military-involved youth and families. Amanda Harlin, House Manager for our TRICARE Edison House highlighted one such success story: “We worked with a family that was stationed overseas, having both a son and daughter in need of intensive residential treatment. With the siblings being at KidsPeace at separate times, the success of one directly contributed to the success of the other.” 

Kwiatkowski recalled the case as “… unique due to time zones and some challenges related to international calls and finding a secure way to have face to face communication. Zoom calls were challenging but both teams were able to work out systems and times that allowed for consistent family contact over the distance.

“Initially the female sibling struggled a little more with acclimating to KidsPeace, but the therapeutic work she was able to invest in over her stay was significant once trust was built and she was committed to working with the treatment team. Her brother benefited from her example in that he immediately saw KidsPeace as somewhere that he could access support and help. His sister doing so well upon her return home set the stage in that he was able to see firsthand her transformation after she had returned home to the family. I know while she was here, she expressed that he was struggling in the home and that we ‘may see him next’.”

In fact, that is what happened.  “Following the treatment of his sister, upon arriving at KidsPeace her brother indicated that he saw how happy his sister was when she returned and inspired him to seek treatment at KidsPeace as well. Both of these children did very well and made a lot of therapeutic gains,” Harlin noted.

This story is representative of the great work accomplished by our clinical, program and nursing professionals. Over the years we have featured several success stories here in Healing Magazine. It’s important to note that ultimately, these treatment successes would not be possible without the investment of time and commitment of the involved youth and their family.

As KidsPeace advanced our work with military-involved families, we realized we had the opportunity to expand our TRICARE-certified residential services. In 2020, the Orchard Hills Campus became TRICARE-certified in all our residential programs, increasing from the original two TRICARE residences to now a total of eleven. TRICARE certification expansion did not stop with the Orchard Hills Campus; in 2021 KidsPeace announced our adolescent residential programs at KidsPeace’s campus in Bowdon, GA became TRICARE-certified.

Increased availability to work with military-involved youth and families was welcomed by those committed to our TRICARE population from the start. 

“When we learned TRICARE youth could be admitted across all residential houses, in our eyes this expansion created an opportunity to increase our ability to provide services to additional youth in need of the care and treatment offered at KidsPeace. We take a great deal of pride in the services we provide, in the quality of care offered and in the impact the relationships our associates and clinical team form with the youth in our care and their families,” Kwiatkowski said.

As we conclude a decade of providing service to the TRICARE population, KidsPeace will continue to seek out opportunities to increase our services dedicated to military-involved youth and families, building on our history of giving Hope, Help and Healing to children, families and those who love them.

Chris Sylvester

Chris Sylvester joined KidsPeace in 1992 as a direct care worker at the Graham Lake Campus in Ellsworth, Maine, advancing to take on a variety of roles and responsibilities. In 2014, Chris became National Customer Relations Liaison for KidsPeace covering the Northeast Territory, which includes all of New England and New York, to ensure customers are aware of the KidsPeace Continuum of Care and the treatment services offered for youth and families.