When residents enter the Aurora House program, they begin participating in the daily point system. This is a very simple token economy that rewards residents for successful participation in the activities of the program. For each activity on the Aurora House daily schedule, residents earn points for meeting the basic expectation and for demonstrating the corresponding relationship skills. The weekly point totals are then used as part of the criteria for changing levels. When a resident demonstrates an increased sense of responsibility, typically associated with level 3 or 4, she may request "self-reliant (SR) status." This status indicates that a girl has internalized the rewards associated with meeting her basic, daily responsibilities and no longer requires the external reward of points.
As residents demonstrate increasing responsibility in their relationships to family members, peers, authority figures and to themselves they advance in the Aurora House level system. The level system is comprised of 5 progressive steps that gradually allow residents greater responsibilities and privileges. Residents are assessed in the areas of school performance, individual treatment plan progress, daily points earned, group participation, and other responsibilities. When a resident reaches the final level of the system, a meeting is scheduled with the girl, her primary counselor, and her probation counselor to establish a graduation date and begin developing her aftercare plan.
Some residents in Aurora House may eventually seek vocational experience and support. These residents may be assisted in locating part-time and summer employment in the community after they have reached level 3 and demonstrated a high degree of responsibility. Aurora House will help residents access local youth employment programs, vocational training, and other available employment resources when appropriate. Residents who obtain employment will work with their primary counselor to establish a savings account and learn money management skills. Primary counselors will maintain contact with employers on a regular basis. This component will typically be available to residents on level 3 or 4 or who are learning independent living skills.
Group Home Environment
The foundation for all Aurora House program components and services is a home-like environment that meets the basic needs of residents. This environment communicates a sense of positive regard and respect. Girls are provided an attractive, well maintained, safe, and structured atmosphere. The group home staff furnishes residents with regular, good-tasting and nutritious meals, 24-hour supervision, and age-appropriate social interaction. Additionally, Aurora House ensures the provision of routine and emergency dental and medical services.
Aurora House Staff
The relationships developed between the counseling staff and residents are believed to be the basis for the growth that occurs in Aurora House clients. Counselors develop relationships that are nurturing and optimistic yet communicate consistency and accountability. This helps residents learn to accept appropriate limits and expectations while enhancing their self-esteem. Through these relationships counselors create the group home environment described above. The relationships formed between the counselors and the residents combined with the program's structure promote growth in the girls served by Aurora House.
The Aurora House staff includes the group home manager, a residential supervisor, 4 full-time counselors, several relief counselors, a part-time food service coordinator, and a senior administrative assistant. All staff members have extensive experience and appropriate education. Effective communication and teamwork by the Aurora House staff are seen as vital to the program's effectiveness.