Residential Education in the U.S.: Change We DO Believe in!

The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is just one – though a striking one – example of change taking place in American society.

Recent years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in residential education (RE) in the United States. The Coalition for Residential Education (CORE) defines “residential education” as settings where highly vulnerable youth live and learn together, outside their homes, within stable, supportive environments. RE is developing into a more well-defined, and slowly but increasingly accepted and distinguished field in the United States, with existing programs updating their practices and new programs opening across the country.

Whether called a prep school, children’s home, boarding or residential charter school, more people are viewing RE as a viable and important option for thousands of children, including, but not limited to, those in the child welfare (foster care) system. Long recognized as a desirable model for children from more affluent families, RE affords at-risk children a similar opportunity – helping them navigate a solid course in career, relationships…and in life.

Though the programmatic models differ, each of the approximately 120 existing programs, and new ones currently being started, share a core mission: to provide a way for young people to excel through high-quality education. One demonstration of success is RE’s high college enrollment numbers: approximately 80% of CORE member program graduates attend college each year.

CORE is the national nonprofit organization of residential education programs for economically and socially disadvantaged youth. The New Wave of Residential Education, the 2009 CORE National Conference, held March 1-3 in Jacksonville, Florida will be the premier networking and professional practices event specifically for the RE field in the U.S. The event is hosted by two CORE member programs – Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and Safe Harbor Boys Home – two distinct and highly reputable programs whose campuses will be visited as part of the conference. The conference will focus on program innovations and outcomes measurement data, as well as feature keynote speakers, a wide variety of workshops, campus tours, and the presentation of the fourth annual Catherine Hershey National Residential Education Awards.

For more information about the conference, residential education, and CORE, please visit

“I think this is a hugely important opportunity for children to have access to…[some] children need a residential school that allows them to better focus on academics. We want to provide all of these education options and more… there are some students that home is so tough, or frankly non-existent, that whatever we’re trying to do during the school day gets nullified. So we need to create these residential options. Families elect to do this.” – Arne Duncan, (newly appointed) U.S. Secretary of Education

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