AMIkids is a national, nonprofit organization serving atrisk youth in seven states, with 40 locations, since 1969. In Miami-Dade County, AMIkids has two day treatment programs where youths ages 13-18 years old attend educational classes, participate in counseling, scuba dive, learn vocational skill and several other exciting activities. Miami-Dade locations are in Key Biscayne and North Miami Beach.
The core of all programming is the AMIkids Personal Growth Model. The AMIkids model is a research-driven, evidence-based intervention that combines education, counseling and behavior modification to address the comprehensive needs of each student. Additionally, it provides holistic services to each individual teen, allowing them to grow personally and prepare for the future.
Before services are provided through the model, the risks, needs and motivation exhibited by the youth and his or her family are assessed. On the basis of these assessments, an appropriate treatment plan is developed that combines the following components:
This component uses three primary methods to enhance learning: experiential education, project-based learning and service learning. Participants attend classes in an academic setting, and teachers use a rigorous curriculum designed to address the participants’ individualized needs and diverse learning styles. Teachers implementing this component are certified and highly qualified on the basis of state, local and AMIkids requirements.
This component is individualized on the basis of each participant’s assessment, and research-based mental health and/ or substance abuse interventions (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, functional family therapy, motivational interviewing) are provided to participants, as well as their families. Participants receive group services on a daily basis, and individual and family sessions are provided on a schedule determined by the individualized treatment plan. The staff who implement this component are licensed mental health professionals or therapists/counselors who are supervised by a licensed mental health professional.
This component is designed to develop or strengthen desired pro-social behaviors and eliminate or weaken anti-social behaviors through three techniques using positive reinforcement: a point card system, a token economy and a rank system. This component is implemented by designated AMIkids behavior modification professionals.
The programs in Miami-Dade have an outstanding nonrecidivism rate of 84 percent. The youth who graduate from the program are afforded the opportunity to become law abiding, tax-paying citizens, eligible for scholarships through the Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund and the AMIkids Foundation. AMIkids Miami-Dade changes the lives of over 300 youth per year, employs 30 staff members, and has a volunteer group of board members comprised of business, civic and community leaders.
Most recently, AMIkids visited legislators in Tallahassee, Fla. at the capitol building March 25-6, 2014. At the visit, the students of AMIkids learned about the law-making process and the roles of the legislators. They were also able to personally thank our legislative bodies for their support of the AMIkids program. The students were accompanied by AMIkids directors, board members and corporate executives.
“AMIkids relies on the support of the legislative bodies and through financial hardships it is imperative that we continue to educate the representatives about the program,” said Terrance Levell, director of AMIkids Miami-Dade South program.