What is Residential Treatment?

When other models and therapies have been proven not effective, or a child presents such significant behaviors that it is no longer safe to live at home, Residential Treatment may be the necessary option to consider. At this intensive level of therapy, a child receives 24/7 supervision and support within with a structured environment to build various coping, communication, social and independent-living skills.

Campus Shot

The San Diego Center for Children provides three Residential Treatment programs on our expansive and inviting 9-acre campus in Kearny Mesa. A multidisciplinary team of specialized and highly-trained staff oversee the 70 children and teens, ages 6 to 18, living on our campus. Additionally, we are proud to be one of the only Residential Treatment programs for children in Southern California accredited by The Joint Commission, demonstrating our commitment to quality of care and high standards recognized by the Commission.

Therapeutic Team and Approach

Each program approaches the behavioral care of each child with a focus on holistic wellness through comprehensive therapeutic programming and strength-based approaches. Additionally, our trauma-informed care approach implemented throughout our campus equips us to treat children and teens with sensitivity to backgrounds of physical and sexual abuse, or other types of severe trauma. This team includes:

  • Program Managers
  • Clinical Supervisors
  • Specialized Therapists – our clinicians develop “Areas of Experience” covering the wide array of common diagnosis presented in our youth (i.e., depression, anxiety, substance abuse)
  • Child Development Counselors
  • Training Specialists

The Center’s care and treatment for each child is guided by our EMBRACE model which is practiced fully in our Residential Treatment programs. Our extensive therapies include

  • Individual, group and family sessions
  • Music
  • Art
  • Recreation
  • Relaxation
  • Pet/Animal
  • Sensory
  • Psychiatry

And many enrichment opportunities are available to allow for enjoyable, memorable childhood experiences:

  • Summer camps
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Sports teams
  • Dance and gymnastics lessons
  • Hobbies (scrapbooking, photography, fishing, etc…)
  • Field trips
  • Zoo and park visit
  • And much more!


Our goal from the day of admission into the program is to have the child reunite to a safe, nurturing home as soon as progress has been achieved to do this successfully. Family or caregivers play a significant role in the the success of this transition, and we strongly encourage family participation in achieving the treatment goals for the child and creating the transition plan for the family.

For admission with private pay or insurance, please contact us directly at (858) 633-4106. The Center accepts most major insurance plans. The Center also accepts public funding referrals from county social workers, school districts, adoption assistance and others.

Children's Residential Programs

Clark Adolescent Program