When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence
~ Dr. Phil McGraw
Over a month ago, the “post-Pastor John dinner” discussion turned to understanding the concept of kicking people out of Frederick Place. Until that discussion I had assumed that the community osmotically knew terminating a resident’s stay was a routine procedure when operating a shelter. If Pastor John, who has been providing meals since we opened, was unaware of this common occurrence, it was a pretty safe bet that a lot of you are also unaware. Thanks to Pastor John I thought I would write an educational piece this month. What you are about to read is also a testament to our pledge to operate Frederick Place as a safe haven, free of drugs, alcohol, and violence.
During the shortest month of 2018, five residents were told they needed to leave for a variety of violations. This achievement set a record, and it is one we hope is never challenged.
Our rules are in place to promote safety for all, resident self-sufficiency, resident rights, staff rights, confidentiality, and property upkeep and respect. Portions of all of our rules and guidelines are documented throughout a resident file/chart. Some of our directives are ones you would expect most adults to already know. Some directives are specific to Frederick Place. The portion titled
contains all of the rules with detailed explanations. When a prospective resident arrives they are often very nervous and anxious. If an individual demonstrates these conditions it is unlikely that they will remember what they have been told, so we often do not complete their intake on that first day. For that reason we created a condensed list of rules we felt they needed to know on their first day. We call it
Resident’s Initial Rules and House Schedule.
We give it to them to
review on their own once they are settled in. As a group, staff chose a few rules that we feel are the most important and most misunderstood. This page was designed with red ink and large font and is simply titled:
Zero Tolerance Policy
Immediate Termination Policy
reiterate those rules that will result in an immediate termination of stay with
. We want residents to know, without doubt, what the consequence of choosing certain behaviors will be. Rules pertaining to medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be found in the mother ship list of rules, in the handout, and in the health section of a file.
Emergency Shelter Agreement
is a list of expectations and recommendations. Although this section does not read as if it were a set of rules, a resident may be asked to leave if they are not meeting expectations by working on the goals their case manager formulated for/with them.
Through the years we have had to amend rules and add new ones. I imagine that will be the case in the future. Some of the additions have been “a-ha” moments because we are surprised we hadn’t thought of them sooner. The best example I can come up with is the recent addition of “the only acceptable breathalyzer result is 0.00” after a resident’s breathalyzer test read 0.04. The argument this person gave was that she would not be charged with drunk driving with this blood alcohol concentration. The resident file touches on zero tolerance and failed
UA/breathalyzer multiple times, but not in great detail. The assumption was that a resident would understand that zero tolerance means just that.
is also explained to incoming residents. We do “write people up” for rule infractions. If they receive three write-ups their stay may be terminated. Examples of write-up worthy conduct are missing an assigned chore one too many times, being late for morning check-in, or being late for curfew. The hope is that the behavior that warranted a write-up will cease if there is a threat of being asked to leave. Unfortunately, residents don’t take this consequence seriously until they receive three and then are informed their time at Frederick Place has come to an end.
Prior to settling in to write this I thought it might be interesting to share the reasons residents have been asked to leave. To get an accurate count I went through past resident files from 2011 to the present and put them into categories. The grand total is 155, which isn’t too shabby considering over 600 people have called Frederick Place home.
Rule infraction = 40
Unapproved overnight (did not return within one hour of a missed curfew) = 43
Volatile or threatening behavior/verbally abusive/disrespectful = 12
Being in possession of pornography/ pornographic website browsing = 2
Theft = 3
Failed random breathalyzer/ UA drug test = 45
Refusal to do a breathalyzer/UA = 2
Solicit urine in order to pass a UA = 3
Smuggling urine in to pass a UA = 2
Altering urine for UA (microwaved it) = 1
Crawling out a second floor window = 1
Aiding the person crawling out the window = 1
P.S. Yes, someone really did microwave their urine.