About Our Residential Program
Our residential program is based on Christian principles and teachings and incorporates proven methods and counseling to serve a diverse population of young women from across the United States. Our program is completely free of charge to the young women we serve.
Many of the young women who come to Mercy for help are facing a combination of debilitating circumstances and have been in various treatment facilities with unsuccessful long-term results. We are committed to providing our residents with excellent program services that allow them to recognize their self-worth and prepare them to reach their full potential. Through the application of God’s unconditional love, our approach to healing allows young women to permanently stop destructive cycles and prepares them to take hope out into their communities.
Our multi-dimensional approach is uniquely designed to address the whole person – body, mind and spirit. It features biblically based counseling and teaching integrated with life-skills training and educational opportunities. Because it’s rooted in the Word of God, our program changes more than behavior. It transforms hearts, helping hurting girls turn around their entire lives to become the beloved woman each was created to be.
- Life Skills Training – Each resident receives training in the areas of cooking, cleaning, managing a home environment, and managing a budget. These skills are taught in a class format and in a practical way, as each resident is responsible for assigned chores in the home.
- Classroom Time – Each resident receives classroom teaching on forgiveness, anger management, setting boundaries, and other global principles to be applied in specific counseling sessions. Our resources are from renowned teachers such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, and Dave Ramsey. Many powerful speakers and Christian musical artists come in person to teach the residents as well.
- Bible Classes – Each resident participates in daily worship and Bible reading.
- Financial Management – Each resident completes Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program before graduating from Mercy.
- Nutrition Education – Each resident has her own specific food plan developed by the Nutrition Manager.
- Fitness Education – Each resident has a plan for fitness developed by the Fitness Manager based on her specific goals and needs. Residents also have many opportunities to participate in fun recreational activities.
- Outside Activities – There are many opportunities for residents to experience components of life outside the walls of the home. These activities allow residents to experience life outside of Mercy on a small scale so they can begin preparing to make decisions without the direct guidance of staff.
- On Fridays, residents go on an outing to a local mall for shopping and lunch, as well as a local Target or Walmart for toiletries and other personal items.
- Residents often attend local sporting events, conferences, appropriate concerts and movies when tickets are donated.
- Saturdays are a day off for the residents and they can sleep in, relax, and watch movies.
- Weekends are set aside for residents to make and receive phone calls from family and friends and occasionally to leave to visit family.
- Residents who are in the program during Christmas go home for two weeks during this time.
Our counseling curriculum, “Choices That Bring Change,” combines biblical principles of healing and unconditional love with best-practice clinical interventions and has been developed from over three decades of experience. The curriculum’s seven key components include:
- Commitment to Christ
- Choosing to Forgive
- Renewing the Mind
- Generational Patterns
- Healing Life Hurts
- Freedom From Oppression
- Principles for Life-long Success
Counselors work with residents to:
- Identify the root causes for destructive behavior.
- Equip residents with the life skills and the ability to permanently avoid destructive behaviors.
- Identify goals at 30, 60 and 90 days. By 90 days, counselor and counselee are working on aftercare goals with an approximate six month timeline in mind.
- Provide accountability to residents while they are in the program.
Counselors also give input to a core team of staff, including the Fitness Manager, Nutrition Manager and the Director of Medical Services, to provide each resident with individualized, holistic care based on each resident’s needs.
In addition to individual counseling, residents also participate in group counseling on a weekly basis. Group counseling sessions are a time focused on solutions and not a time to rehash past issues.
Our program is successful because the resident identifies issues, takes responsibility and makes choices to move forward.
Our program staff members are qualified through their education, skills, experience and maturity in their relationship with God to serve each resident.
All counselors at Mercy are required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in social work, psychology, counseling or a related field, and 80% have master’s degrees.
We have a licensed nurse at each of our homes. Although Mercy is not a medical facility, some of the residents who enter the program have medical issues that need to be managed. At each home, the Director of Medical Services:
- Takes the residents to medical and dental appointments.
- Monitors medications.
- Works with Vanderbilt Midwives for pregnant residents. (Nashville home only)
- Works with local practitioners to provide psychiatric oversight as needed.
- Provides basic medical care to the residents as needed.
Each Mercy home has a Fitness Manager and a Nutrition Manager.
- The Fitness Manager plans recreational time for residents each day and helps them develop a healthy view of exercise.
- The Nutrition Manager approves all menus, making sure each meal has a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, etc.
The Director of Education oversees all educational plans for students in the Nashville home. All minors who enter the program are required to continue their education while at Mercy. Our Education Department is recognized by the state of Tennessee as a Category 4 school and is a member of TANAS (Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools), an association approved by the state. Mercy utilizes the curriculum program with Alpha Omega Schools, which is an accredited school through AdvancEd. Further information regarding the Alpha Omega Schools program and accreditation can be found at http://de.aopschools.com/. There are several education options:
- “IGNITIA” – An online program with curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications: aopschools.com.
- Coursework from the school where the student is presently enrolled.
- Online coursework from a program approved by the school where the student is presently enrolled.
- Home school or online program.
- Work towards a GED. (age 17+)
Note: Residents over the age of 18 in any of our homes who would like to complete their high school education are encouraged to take part in the GED/HiSET program as well.
We have several adjunct services that support our residential program, including Intake, Adoptions and Transitional Care.
All intake staff members are located in the Nashville, TN corporate headquarters and all applications and placements are handled through this office. The Director of Intake has a master’s degree. The Intake Department:
- Assists young women in the application process including gathering all medical records, interviewing each applicant, assessing applicants’ desire to enter Mercy and managing flow of applications.
- Defines program expectations with future residents prior to entry in the program.
- Informs Program Staff of future resident’s specific needs and circumstances.
- Assigns counseling materials to future residents while they are waiting to enter the program.
- Coordinates with Program Directors in each home and assists in transitioning young women from the waiting list into the home as beds become available.
Adoptions/Pregnant Resident Services:
The Nashville Corporate Office has an in-house licensed adoption agency. The Director of Adoptions has a master’s degree and multiple years in adoptions and foster care services. We provide each of our residents facing an unplanned pregnancy with a Basic Decision Making course to enable them to make an educated decision about either parenting or placing a child for adoption. Residents then participate in either:
- Parenting classes for residents who choose to parent.
- Adoption planning services and post-adoption counseling for any resident who chooses to place her baby for adoption.
Our Transitional Care Department is located in the Nashville, TN corporate headquarters and provides assistance for graduating residents from each Mercy location. The Transitional Care Department:
- Works with each resident, her Counselor and Program Staff to assist her as she prepares to graduate and re-enter the community.
- Conducts one, three, six and twelve-month evaluations after graduation to monitor progress and ensure successful reintegration into the community.
- Provides support and general counsel to young women after they have left the program.
- Directs residents to local churches and assists when needed.
- Pairs each resident with an accountability partner to assist and encourage her after she graduates from the program.
- Provides assistance in the areas of education, employment, transportation, community involvement and health care.