top of page

Northern Lights (Girls only 12-18)

Northern Lights is a residential treatment program designed for adolescent girls ages 12 to 18 experiencing a severe emotional disorder. The program provides services for girls who have a history in the past calendar year of an inability to adjust and progress in a family setting, therapeutic treatment home, outpatient or other structured treatment placement. Girls participating in the Northern Lights program need the environment of the facility to develop the social, behavioral and coping skills necessary to live in the community. Northern Lights is a highly structured program providing person-centered individual, group and family-based treatment, behavior modification, education, and pro-social recreational opportunities to increase social behavior, improve functioning and well-being, and facilitate a safe return to a stable living arrangement in the community.


Many of the girls participating in the Northern Lights program have participated in less restrictive services but have not been able to remain safe in their homes and/or communities. Girls often discharge back to their homes with community-based supports in place to ensure continued success.  Girls who completed a higher level of care and whose needs exceed successful placement in the community/home setting also meet the criteria for placement.


The Northern Lights Program provides services 24-7. Staff is on-site and available for support during day and night hours. A Juneau School District Teacher and an aide provide educational services in an on-site classroom.

Contact The Link (907) 789-7610, or by fax, (907) 789-8443.

Program Philosophy

The program is strength-based and uses the Teaching Family Model. Treatment is provided by a multidisciplinary team. The youth will learn and practice a variety of social skills including communication, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, self-regulation and anger management. The program uses the Teaching Family Motivation System where youth earn points for using their skills. Points are used to access special privileges and advance through systems towards graduation. The use of points as an external motivator is faded out toward the end of treatment when youth can use social skills and self-regulation skills more independently and have developed internal motivators for maintaining and continuing positive changes.


Strong family involvement is essential to the youth’s progress in the program and participation in family therapy is expected. Regular family visiting hours are part of the program schedule. Out-of-town families are invited to visit (Medicaid travel is arranged by the case manager every 90 days). Staff updates families and guardians weekly about the youth’s progress.

Admission Criteria

The young person must have an assessment completed by one of the following, recommending residential treatment:

  • A psychiatrist with an MD or DO

  • An independently licensed psychologist

  • An independently licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker

If the family is paying for services through Medicaid or other insurance, prior authorization for services is required. JYS completes this authorization request following assessment. As authorizations expire, continued stay authorization is required approximately every six weeks. If an assessment is not available, JYS can provide one.

Length of Stay

In this highly structured setting, residential services are intended to serve girls who:

  1. Exhibit destructive behaviors,

  2. Have been identified as having intensive needs, and/or

  3.  Need a highly structured setting with psychiatric services available and/or need an accurate diagnosis determined.

The therapeutic behavioral health services provided to girls includes:

  1. Determination of an accurate diagnosis;

  2. Behavioral stabilization and management;

  3. Comprehensive individual treatment planning focused on continued care and the young person’s long-term needs;

  4. Individual, family, and group therapy;

  5. Crisis intervention and stabilization;

  6. Maintenance and improvement of the young person’s educational progress and development of an Individualized Education Program for each young person (coordinating with the school IEP team as needed);

  7. Developing independent living skills;

  8. Developing a plan for subsequent placement.

There is no minimum or maximum length of stay. Typically, girls participating in Northern Lights meet their treatment goals within six to nine months.


The program operates at a staff-to-client ratio of 1:4 during the day and 1:8 at night. Additional staff are present when needed. Each youth is assigned to a case manager and a master’s level clinician.


Staff Qualifications

All staff having contact with boys in Northern Lights are at least 21 years old and can be male or female. All Montana Creek staff have been provided with the following training:

  • First aid and CPR

  • Teaching Family pre-service workshop and ongoing training

  • Relationship building

  • Communication skills

  • Teaching discipline

  • Clinical diagnoses

  • De-escalation and crisis intervention including nationally recognized de-escalation techniques

  • Clinical issues such as FASD, trauma, substance abuse, etc.

  • Cultural competence

  • Food handler certification

Staff are required to obtain a minimum of 15 hours of job-related training on an annual basis.


Behavioral health associates ensure supervision during the day and night hours. They provide skill-building activities and behavioral management support for youths. The program uses the Teaching Family Model. Youth earn positive points and privileges, such as participating in community outings, when they use their skills and engage in appropriate behaviors. Alternatively, they earn negative points and lose privileges when they engage in inappropriate behaviors.


All youth develop a safety plan upon admission to the program which is updated at least every 30 days.


Clinical services include a comprehensive behavioral health assessment, individual therapy, group therapy and family therapy, with and without the youth.


Psychiatric assessments and medication management are provided by a JYS-contracted psychiatrist.


Professional case managers coordinate medical and educational services as well as aftercare planning. The case managers ensure that the youth’s treatment team is informed about the treatment progress. A treatment team meeting is facilitated every 30 to 90 days to update the treatment plan.


Northern Lights Services are funded by Medicaid, private insurance and generous grants from the State of Alaska.

bottom of page