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On the Way Home® is an aftercare service for youth and families that are transitioning from residential care. Many youth make behavioral and academic progress while in residential care, but face challenges maintaining these skills after they depart. The overall goals are to help youth sustain the gains they make, keep them at home and in school, and prevent a return to residential care.

Program Components

Parenting support provides parents with skills that are taught in Boys Town Common Sense Parenting® classes and are similar to the techniques used by Boys Town residential care staff. Consistency between the residential program and a youth’s home helps the youth make a smoother transition. Parents learn how to help their youth continue using the positive skills they learned in residential care and also how to prevent and correct problem behaviors. Parents receive six individualized training sessions in their own home followed by 24-hour assistance from an On the Way Home® Consultant on how to use their parenting strategies.

Support is provided to the youth’s school to help students continue their academic success and stay in school. On the Way Home® Consultants work with school staff to advocate for the student’s academic needs and monitor his or her educational progress. This includes tracking attendance, grades and school behavior, helping the student address and resolve school challenges, and working with the school to design school-based interventions as needed. The focus is on encouraging student engagement at school and promoting a partnership between the youth’s family and school so everyone works together.

Homework support is provided to help create a learning environment in the home that is similar to what the youth experienced while in Boys Town’s residential care. Parents learn how to set up a positive learning environment, monitor their child’s homework and get assistance with additional academic supports for their child when needed. This helps reduce tension and frustration with homework (for youth and parents), improves learning and promotes school success.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do services start?
Services typically begin six to eight weeks prior to a youth’s departure from residential care. This helps establish a parenting plan with the family that assists in the youth’s transition home.

How long do services last?
Youth and families typically receive two hours of service a week for up to 12 months.

Where do services occur?
Services occur in the youth’s home and school, and in the community.

What does the research say about On the Way Home?
On the Way Home® was developed, implemented and tested through a partnership between the Boys Town Child and Family Translational Research Center® and the Academy for Child and Family Well-Being at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It was made possible by two grant-funded research studies from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (Grants # R324A12060, R324B070031).

The studies included youth in middle and high school who were departing residential care programs and returning to their families and schools in their community. Youth and families that received On the Way Home® services were compared to those that received traditional support. The first study showed youth who received On the Way Home® services were more likely to be at home and in school 12 months after services ended compared to youth who received traditional support. The results of the second study are under review.

On the Way Home® is rated as having Promising Research Evidence on the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare.

For more information, go to: cebc4cw.org/program/on-the-way-home-otwh

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Email John McGuire

13603 Flanagan Blvd
Boys Town, NE 68010



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