Frequently asked questions

What is Big Sky Academy?

Big Sky Academy is a private, non-profit therapeutic boarding school for young people demonstrating problem behaviors. Big Sky Academy's emphasis is on a treatment philosophy that builds self-esteem through a carefully monitored and systematic approach known as Positive Peer Culture. Big Sky Academy will target the development of strong self-esteem through an approach that employs cognative strategies and altruistic (placing others before oneself) challenges as the tools to change.

Where do Big Sky students come from?

Our students come from all over the United States. Most of our referrals are from private educational consultants. We also have a large number of word-of-mouth referrals from families that have worked with us in the past.

How many residents does Big Sky work with at one time?

Big Sky Academy is licensed for a maximum of 36 students.

Does Big Sky work with male and female students?

Yes. Students are placed in same-gender groups of 6 to 12; each group is housed in a separate cottage and operates cohesively throughout the day.

What is the age range of Big Sky students?

Big Sky Academy serves students from twelve to eighteen years of age. As long as Big Sky Academy has admitted a student prior to his/her eighteenth birthday and we have documentation of the required treatment, we may continue working with the student into his/her eighteenth year.

How long do residents typically stay at Big Sky Academy?

The length of time a student stays varies with the severity of the problem the person brings into the program. The actual length of stay is typically determined through regular correspondence between Big Sky Academy staff and referring sources. The average length of stay is approximately 12 months.

What is the Child/Staff ratio?

Direct care (Milieu Instructors) ratios are one staff per 8 students. Two trained direct care staff (Milieu Instructors) are typically assigned to each cottage.

What qualifications do your professional staff or clinicians possess?

Big Sky Academy employs Licensed Professional Counselors (LCPC) and a consulting Psychiatrist. Big Sky Academy also employs a Registered Nurse.

Do the residents at Big Sky Academy work?

Big Sky Academy has an Incentive Wage Program in which students are able to earn money for doing extra chores. Jobs offered include landscaping and construction, as well as painting and assisting the maintenance crew. Students are reguarly offered jobs that will build self-esteem, teach vocational skills and responsibility, and promote their personal ownership of Big Sky Academy.

Does Big Sky Academy have any religious affiliations?

No, we do not have any religious affiliation.

Are Psychotropic drugs used as part of the therapy?

Big Sky Academy utilizes a consulting psychiatrist to monitor any psychotropic medications that a resident may have been previously prescribed. The psychiatrist works closely with the treatment team to determine the ongoing medication needs. More often than not, we find that students have less of a need for medication once integrated into the program. However, we will address a need for psychotropic medication should one arise.

What distinguishes Big Sky Academy from other programs?

Big Sky Academy adheres strongly to the Positive Peer Culture model. Our social learning environment may utilize group, family or individual therapy; with an emphasis placed on how the therapeutic work is being carried into the rest of the milieu. The passion that is developed among both students and staff is rooted in the development of the altruistic values encompassed in the Positive Peer Culture modality. When caring is made fashionable and youth are taught to care for one another, the previously held subculture of defiance, delinquency or depression dissipates. Young people must be given the opportunity to show their self-worth through systematic processes that ask them to help his/her peers. Under guidnce and direction of care-giving staff, students play an integral part in the promotion and well-being of each other.

What steps does Big Sky Academy take to promote and maintain students' health and wellness?

Big Sky Academy residential treatment center and school is dedicated to the promotion and maintenance of wellness. Big Sky Academy believes that nutrition and fitness are critical aspects of wellness and development for adolescents. A wellness plan is designed for each student's individual nutritional, behavioral, medical and educational goals and needs.

Do residents have recreational opportunities?

Yes, recreation is conducted on a daily basis. A weight room, volleyball court, and outdoor basketball court supplement our ability to involve the residents in activities. Regular sporting activities such as flag football, basketball, softball, and volleyball are popular among the residents. Other popular activities include art classes, bicycling, rafting, sledding and skiing.

12508 Cramer Creek Road
Clinton, MT 59825


(© Big Sky Academy 2020