WHAT FAMILIES SHOULD KNOW
If you have a family member who could use our help
No matter how much you want to “get your loved one into The Other Side Academy” – they must be the one to ask us for help. We will not accept requests on behalf of another person. You are welcome to contact us with questions or to facilitate the interview, but The Other Side Academy can be of no help to someone who isn’t committed to qualifying for a place. And if someone—with the best of intentions—pressures them into presenting themselves for an interview they are unlikely to pass the interview.
If your loved one is in jail, let them know they can write us and ask for an interview. If your loved one is out of jail, you are welcome to bring them to our campus, so they can sit on our bench and ask for an interview. They don’t need to bring anything except a deep desire to change. If they are accepted, we will admit them immediately. This process can take several hours. Sometimes we ask the candidate to wait a few hours on the bench before we begin the interview. The interview itself and the deliberation process between the interview team can also take a while. So please expect that this process will take a significant amount of time. Don’t have them bring any additional clothes, personal items, or photos. We will supply everything that they need – and any personal items they bring will not be allowed in the home.
If your family member has been accepted and is being released from jail
No one is considered accepted to The Other Side Academy unless they receive an authorized “provisional” acceptance letter. No verbal recollections from an interview or second-hand comments should be considered as evidence of acceptance. If our interview team decides to accept a candidate they will receive a formal letter of provisional acceptance from The Other Side Academy. This letter means that they will be accepted if—and only if—they come directly to The Other Side Academy after release, and then pass a confirmatory interview upon arrival.
If your family member has received a letter of acceptance from The Other Side Academy and is being released from jail to our program, you can help by making sure they come directly to The Other Side Academy when they are released. The candidate will have already been informed that they must report directly to The Other Side Academy upon release. Their acceptance letter makes this very clear to them. If they do not comply with this requirement we will see this as evidence they are not serious about making serious change in their life and we are likely to reject them when they arrive.
The moment of release from jail or prison is an extremely vulnerable time for prospective students. Often they will rationalize that they simply want to say goodbye to friends or family – or perhaps have one more indulgence before starting their new life. This almost never works. The best thing you can do is help them keep their promise to come directly here.
Once the candidate arrives at The Other Side Academy, they will receive a second “confirmatory” interview. We won’t accept them if they show up late, if they were dishonest in their their initial interview, or if significant circumstances have changed. They also need to have any outstanding legal charges settled. If there is some question about this, please have them contact us and we can advise how to proceed.
The second interview process may take several hours. If you have brought them from jail, all you have to do is drop them off and we will call you and let you know the results of the second interview.
Sometimes, the judge will release candidates to Probation officers and they will work with us so they can make it here. If your family member is released to you, please make sure they come directly here!
Once your family member has been accepted into the program
For the first 60 days, we want our students to focus on getting connected with their fellow students and stabilized in the routine of The Other Side Academy. For this reason we limit all outside distractions. Their sole focus must be changing their lives—not solving problems or maintaining relationships with those outside The Other Side Academy.
Please note that all time frames for family contact below are minimum guidelines but not absolute commitments. Communicating with family is a privilege that is earned based upon one’s progress in changing their life. While some students may communicate at the earliest possible date indicated below, many do so later as they don’t appear ready to do so. We know this loss of contact can be hard for friends and family—and hope you support them in securing their long-term future by making these sacrifices in the short term. Please respect this process and do not make attempts to communicate with them in inappropriate ways that might tempt them to compromise the very integrity they are trying to learn. We know you are eager to hear from them. Please trust that their long-term welfare is our highest concern and make it yours as well.
Please do not try to pressure our team into accelerating communication with your family member. When your family member is ready, we will allow them to contact you in the appropriate manner.
After 30 days of successful participation a students may be able to write—if they choose to—to one approved family member. Generally this will be to a caregiver who played an important role in raising them. They can also begin to receive letters from that same person. All correspondence will be monitored to ensure that the communication is appropriate and healthy for our student. This process may begin later than 30 days if the student is not yet making sufficient progress.
If you are the approved family member who is allowed to writing to a student, please follow these guidelines:
- Focus on the now and the future. We don’t allow our students to talk about the past or to glorify it or to get into detail about their histories with others. We ask the same of you when you communicate with them. It does not help them to raise past concerns or try to resolve old conflicts.
- Do not ask them to come home early. If you love them, you will support them in staying at least two years—perhaps longer. They will struggle even without your influence with thinking they are “done” long before they are ready to go. Anything you say to feed this impatience will undermine their growth.
- Don’t discuss what is going on with “the crew” that he or she ran with before coming to The Other Side Academy. Don’t discuss what old boyfriends or girlfriends are doing or whom they are seeing.
- Don’t talk about how much the kids, spouse or parents need them. If a student breaks their commitment and leaves before they graduate, they will never be the type of parent, spouse, son or daughter they should be. Let them heal and help protect them from these demands and manipulations.
- Don’t send pictures. Later in their stay, they will be able to receive pictures. Right now, pictures pull them from their focus on getting better within The Other Side Academy.
At 3 months or later students who are progressing sufficiently can make one 15 minute phone call once a month to the approved immediate family member that they have been writing to. Again, this communication will be monitored to ensure that the communication is appropriate and healthy.
At 6 months or later, the student can earn the privilege of increasing the frequency of their phone calls to one 15 minute phone call every other week.
In-House Family Visits
At one year or later, the student can earn the privilege of an on-site monitored visit from up to 4 family members. The visit can last up to 4 hours and will be on-site at The Other Side Academy.
Family members who are invited to come must be cleared with The Other Side Academy faculty prior to arrival. Spouse/significant other and/or their children are not allowed to be part of this initial on-site visit. These important relationships will come later in the process. Please do not bring any gifts, money or pictures or anything to leave with the student. Please do not discuss children or spousal issues or concerns. Keep the conversation about what’s going on at The Other Side Academy and how it’s affecting the student and their life and future.
It is critical that visitors honor these boundaries. Any attempt to sneak in things to a student may undermine their ability to learn to live a life of integrity. He or she is in the process of learning that even small lies invite larger ones later.
Contact with Children
After the 15-month mark, the student may request contact with children. If approved (based on merit) the student will be able to call, write and/or schedule for their kids to come to “kid’s day” which is the last Sunday of every month. Kid’s day is a day when all the permitted children visit the campus. Visits may include games, activities, and field trips.
Contact with Spouse
After the 18-month mark, the student may apply to begin to communicate with their spouse (or significant other), if they have earned that privilege. If approved, the student may write, call or schedule an in-house visit. At first, these visits will be chaperoned by another student or faculty member. If you are a spouse or significant other, please do not entice them to leave or involve them in solving problems outside of The Other Side Academy. If you want them to be a healthy part of your life in the future, allow them to focus on developing that capacity now.
After the 18-month mark, the student can apply for a home visit, if they have earned that privilege and generally after two in-house visits. This visit will be chaperoned by another member of our community and the home visit will be at the home of the parents (or the people who raised the student). Do not give them anything to bring back to the facility, including photos, clothing, or money. Our students will only be allowed to visit one specific address and will not be allowed to make multiple visits to other sites. They will not be allowed to see their spouse or significant other, children, or old friends. This visit is for the people who raised the student and the student. Please abide by these rules so we can keep students safe and healthy and so they are not distracted or enticed to want to leave the program.