Schools & Program Visits - Apr, 2002 Issue #92
(A Division of The Brown Schools)
Coeur d’Alene Idaho
Robert Nolan, Program Director
[Lon’s Visit on March 13, 2002]
Milestones is a community-based program for young adults ages 18 and older who
need help transitioning into a life of independence. The program is located in an apartment complex relatively close to North Idaho
College in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and near a number of businesses where the students can easily attend classes and find work. The apartment
complex was designed so that each section contains two units upstairs, and two units downstairs.
Each participant in the Milestones program is required to be involved in an education program, be employed part time, and take care
of the apartment he or she shares with one other student. Counselors are on hand to assist with each aspect of these responsibilities,
being careful to help, rather than do the activity for the student. The length of time a student spends in the program is based on
how well he or she is doing, but an average seems to be about nine months.
Since January, when Robert Nolan took over as Program Director, significant changes have been made in the program. The major change
is it has become a stand-alone program, no longer being exclusively for students who had attended one of the CEDU Schools. The staff
assured me that the program is developed so that a student from CEDU doesn’t have an advantage over the others. Close monitoring with
this question in mind has convinced them that it is a non-issue as to whether or not a student comes from a CEDU school. Staff are
trained on an on-going basis to work with these students and it is taken very seriously.
The program seems well structured, with staff contacting each of the students frequently throughout the day, being available if anyone
needs help and checking whether students are where they are supposed to be, doing what they should. This includes saying goodnight
to each of the students in their room when it is lights-out time, and providing a staff wake-up call in case the students didn’t set,
or hear, their alarm.
There are three phrases, each one involving less structure and more independence than the previous one. The program has a strict no
drug or alcohol policy and has many of the same agreements that CEDU has traditionally used, though they are milder since these are
legal adults. For example, no negative image clothing is allowed, nor is sex, violence or threat of violence, and students are expected
to act respectfully to all other residents of the apartment complex.
The student apartments are large, airy, and well-kept; certainly of much better quality than the apartments I had when I was in college
J. As of my visit, the apartments tended to be scattered throughout the complex, but Nolan was working with the apartment complex
management to do some consolidation so that the offices would be in the downstairs of one building, with two units above them for
the new students to use while they were getting used to the program and establishing some trust.
The students I had a chance to talk to looked good and seemed to be appreciative of their experience there, while speaking of their
plans to successfully complete the program and to continue college and/or work back in their hometown.
Once a student gets settled in, he or she takes college classes in the morning and attends Life Management Training sessions in the
afternoons that are taught by Milestones staff. In addition to conducting workshops, the staff also works individually with students,
focusing on specific life management skills where needed. The students often have part-time employment in the evenings. During the
afternoon, students have a varied schedule that may include counseling, Emotional Growth Workshops, college classes, part time work,
or community volunteering.
This program seems especially strong for what might be called “fragile” kids, who as young adults still need and perhaps might be
looking for, someone to take them by the hand and work with them through the challenges of learning about being an adult. They can
work successfully with the more resistant and manipulative young adults, however, the physical layout of the apartments as of the
time of my visit, especially as a community based program, might present too many temptations for students intending to undermine
the program or see how much they can get away with.