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New Perspectives - Apr, 1995 Issue #33 

Jayne Selby-Longnecker, M.A., Ex. Program Dir.
Redlands, California

Opening its doors in October of 1993, Benchmark is rapidly establishing a solid reputation in working with young adults. It's mission statement reads: 

Benchmark Young Adult Living Program exists for the purpose of providing specialized services for young adults at risk who are at least 18 years of age, and who need assistance in order to become able to emancipate and live independently. Benchmark is committed to providing a non- institutional environment, wherein the student enters into a partnership with caring adults who assist them to realize their potentials through a significant process of hard work and changing attitudes. 

Having 28 students enrolled as of mid-March 1995, and 15 staff working directly with young people, Benchmark has proven it's approach works. It is now an accredited non-profit private school with an affidavit from the State of California and is an individualized, peer group, community-based, reality-based, social- emotional program. It's stated purpose is ... assisting young adults at risk with their transitions into the world of education, work, physical and mental health, and independence. 

Students are admitted on a year-round basis.... A student who would benefit from our program is one who may be thought of as normal, but for some reason, has had a remarkable history of simply not making it. Potential students may exhibit some of the following types of behaviors: lack of responsibility, learning difficulties, minimal brain dysfunction, attention deficit disorder, distressed family relationships, signs of depression, grief and anger, inability to become independent, lack of motivation, drug/alcohol abuse, possible adoption issues and requiring structure in their daily lives. Occasionally, students may benefit from the use of prescribed medication, which is monitored by Dr. Sivilingam. The average completion time for a student is one to one and one-half years to become functional and independent. 

Students may receive their diplomas through the Redlands Adult School. College courses at two local community colleges provide additional vocational training as well as under-graduation preparation. Additional university level classes are offered at University of California, San Bernardino and University of Redlands. 

The students live in either group housing or independent living apartments. The group homes are large and attractive with full amenities. House parents are available in the 24-hour care homes and students who have demonstrated sufficient independence live in apartments and check in daily with counselors as well as participate in group discussions, meals and other activities.

The Benchmark Educational Center building is opening in April, which includes the optional building trades course, along with being ... home to the corporate offices, staff offices, classrooms, counseling rooms and multi- purpose room. Vocational education will be provided for building trades, in which students will become proficient in framing, plumbing and electrical trades. Eventually, other classes will be offered to expand the vocational center. 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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