Programs & Services

Residential Treatment Program

Circle of Courage
Circle of Courage® (CoC) is a philosophy supported by Reclaiming Youth International and used as a foundation for the residential and clinical programs and services at Whaley Children’s Center.

According to Reclaiming Youth International, “The Circle of Courage® is a model of positive youth development based on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. This unique model integrates the cultural wisdom of tribal peoples, the practice wisdom of professional pioneers with troubled youth and findings of modern youth development research.”

When children possess the universal human needs of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity, they are prepared to grow into strong, resilient and proactive citizens.



Mott Residence

The Mott Residence is home to our younger children at Whaley Children’s Center. The facility opened in 1991 and is located on the main campus of Whaley Children’s Center. Children and staff who live, work and play at Mott enjoy a large commercial kitchen, a large meeting/conference room, the family game room and three self-contained cottages—McDonald, Vemco and Johnson. Each of the cottages has eight single bedrooms, laundry, living room, dining room, library and a small kitchen.

This residential program in the Mott Residence offers an intensive treatment program for boys and girls between the ages of five and 17.  The staff to child ratio in all residential settings at WCC is 3:1.




Group Homes

Many of our children also reside in one of our four group homes located throughout the city of Flint. In group homes, children between the ages of 5 and 17 receive therapeutic treatment and learn life skills in a more independent, less restrictive setting. Each home houses six children, and each child has his or her individual bedroom as well as access to common areas such as the kitchen and living room.

Each group home has been made possible through the generous support of four local civic groups. Members of the various clubs for which the homes are names after celebrate birthdays and holidays with the children and continue to be positive role models for our older residents.

In this less restrictive environment, children are responsible for doing a set of chores, maintaining the cleanliness of their bedrooms and learning other life skills that are pertinent to the overall goal of learning appropriate family living such as manners, hygiene, appropriate peer to peer relationships, etc.

  1. Optimist Home: The Optimist Home was established in 1994 as a group home at Whaley Children’s Center. This home was founded by several different Optimist Clubs including Flint Breakfast Club and Davison Optimists. \
  2. Rotary Home: Rotary Home was established in 1985 as an extension of Whaley Children’s Center. Formally known as Alarie Group Home, Rotary was purchased with funding provided by the Flint Rotary Club and currently receives support Flint, Burton and Fenton area Rotary Clubs.
  3. Zonta Home: With support from Zonta I and Zonta II Clubs of Flint, this home was founded in 1991.

Learn more about Optimist International, Rotary International, Zonta International and Kiwanis International.


Clinical Treatment Program

In order to heal the children who come to stay with us at Whaley Children’s Center, we have four Masters-level therapists who work with them one-on-one to help overcome their past and reclaim their future using the following clinical modalities.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (evidence-based)

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is the most well-supported and effective psychosocial treatment model designed to treat children and adolescents who have been abused and traumatized. Extensive research has proven TF-CBT to be effective in addressing posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, externalizing behaviors, sexualized behaviors, feelings of shame and mistrust. The components of the model follow the acronym PRACTICE: Psychoeducation and parenting skills, Relaxation skills, Affect expression and regulation skills, Cognitive coping skills and processing, Trauma narrative, In vivo exposure (when needed), Conjoint parent-child sessions and Enhancing safety and future development. TF-CBT is generally delivered in 12-16 sessions of individual and parent-child therapy.


Structured Sensory Interventions for Traumatized Children, Adolescents and Parents (evidence-based)

Structured Sensory Interventions for Traumatized Children, Adolescents and Parents (SITCAP) was created by The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC). SITCAP offers the child the opportunity to safely revisit and rework past trauma, beginning with sensory memories which our children have experienced and stored. Working through the SITCAP program, our kids will begin to explain their experience with their therapist by sharing what they feel comfortable sharing at a pace they are comfortable. As they progress through the program, trauma-related symptoms will begin to reduce. The process is designed to support safety, emotional regulation and empowerment.


The Sanctuary S.E.L.F. Curriculum (evidence-based)

The Permanency Planning Specialists (PPS) facilitate between two and three S.E.L.F groups per week. S.E.L.F is a trauma-informed way of organizing conversations and documentation in a simple and accessible language. It is based on four concepts: Safety, Emotions, Loss and Future that represent the four fundamental domains of disruption that occur in a traumatized person’s life. Within these four domains, any problem can be categorized. Naming and categorization are the first steps in making a problem manageable. Without focusing on specific individual events, the S.E.L.F. groups address the fundamental problems surrounding exposure to violence which include difficulty staying safe, difficulty managing emotions, suffering from unresolved losses and difficulty envisioning a positive future. Upon completion of the S.E.L.F. curriculum, the group participants have the knowledge and understanding of how to maintain their safety, regulate their emotions, accept the losses they have suffered and envision a bright future free from the cycle of abuse and maladaptive behaviors that has often plagued their families for generations.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (evidence based)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes validation to assist a child on accepting uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors rather than struggling with them. DBT assists our children in challenging dysfunctional thoughts that make their lives harder (i.e. If I get angry, I am a terrible person.) and works to replace those thoughts with more realistic and bearable thoughts (i.e. Everyone gets angry, and it’s a normal emotion.) It's a strength based approach that focuses on identifying strengths and building on them so our children can feel better about themselves and their lives.


Play Therapy (non-evidence based)

Therapeutic play provides a safe, confidential and caring environment which allows the child to play with as few or as many limits as possible for physical and emotional safety. Play and creativity operate on impulses from outside our awareness- the unconscious. Through play therapy, our children are able to communicate their worries, fears and wishes through uncensored play. The therapist may reflect back to a child observations of what has happened during the session if this is felt to be appropriate. This allows the therapist to validate a child’s feelings while also correcting the dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors that stem from the child’s past abuse and neglect. Through play, the therapist and child can begin to change a child’s world view and create a brighter future with healthier relationship, improved social skills and stronger coping skills.


Fit Kids & Wellness

The goal of Whaley’s Fit Kids Program is to prevent childhood obesity and build confidence and self-esteem in youth through education about nutrition and physical well-being. In the 12-week summer food and fitness curriculum, our children are taught healthy eating and active living practices through weekly activities including group sessions that incorporate movement, art projects, trips to the local farmers’ market and cooking.

Because of their previous abuse and neglect, most Whaley kids lack the self-esteem and self-worth needed to develop the life and social skills necessary to become healthy and principled young adults. Furthermore, these kids suffer from high stress and depression.

Studies show exercise decreases anxiety, reduces depression, and improves mood and outlook in children. By maintaining a healthy body weight and daily physical activity, our children are better able to develop their self-esteem and confidence, while their ability to overcome challenging opportunities and develop their social skills, leadership and empathy is much greater.  In addition, children who are active have the ability to concentrate much better and their quality of sleep is improved.


Vegetable Garden

Studies have shown that when children help plant, tend to, and gather vegetables, they eat more of them than kids who don't garden. To promote these healthy eating habits, children at Whaley help plant and cultivate vegetables at our main campus and group homes. 

The staff and children at the Center owe a huge amount of gratitude to Sue Ellen Fox and the Gardening Club. for revitalizing our garden during the spring of 2014. Through their dedication to the project, our children have a beautiful garden full of delicious vegetables!  



Studies show it takes three adult role models in a child'e life to provide the guidance necessary to become a productive and engaged young adult. These adults who share their time, talents, energy and compassion are usually parents, aunts and uncles, teachers and religious leaders. Many of our children are lacking these adults in their lives; however, through our mentoring program, we help to fill this void many of our children feel. Through the mentoring program, community members have the opportunity to be role models while instilling feelings of positive self-esteem and self-worth, self-respect, hope and love.