Case Management at Rancho Cielo

Rancho Cielo recognizes that supporting the whole student significantly improves their chances of success: obtaining the high-quality education and the relevant workforce development training they need to make a rewarding transition into post-secondary training, college, or industry — including having financial independence and earning a sustainable living wage. 

We’ve designed a holistic case management model, in which each program has a dedicated case manager assigned to help each student, every step of the way, on their path to completing their high school education, vocational training, and beyond. It’s a framework that considers the individual’s needs and what they specifically require to thrive.

When issues students face are beyond the case managers’ expertise, they may refer them to a full-time, on-site mental health professional, who can help address emotional distress, challenges, and trauma through individual, ongoing counseling and crisis management. Without adequate coping mechanisms, students may struggle with their education, obtaining and keeping a job, and forming long-term positive and productive relationships.

At times, it may feel daunting for students to reach out to a counselor or therapist; there may be stigma associated with asking for help or the thought that they “shouldn’t complain.” That’s the benefit of having the therapist on campus — it allows students to get to know them in a familiar atmosphere, walk and talk with them, and eliminate the fear of opening up to a stranger.

Rancho Cielo’s mental health professional has served youth who have experienced a multitude of trauma-related experiences, helping them process their trauma, work through it with compassionate support, envision the possibilities and opportunities they can experience in their lives, and recognize the importance of the choices they make today.

Rancho Cielo’s tight-knit case management team consists of five case managers, one dedicated to each career technical education program, and a lead case manager to help facilitate and coordinate their work. They provide personalized, 1:1 assistance to each student, conducting formal meetings weekly to support their needs and help them navigate challenges they may face during their time at Rancho Cielo.

Case managers also connect regularly with teachers and instructors and communicate often with parents and guardians. This helps them keep a pulse on the issues the students encounter — inside and outside of the classroom — that may interfere with their ability to pursue and focus on their education and future.

They are champions, coaches, connectors, and mentors, who can offer moral support, encourage accountability, lend an ear, or give a ride to an appointment. Case managers also can provide support with:

  • College search and application processes
  • Financial aid and scholarship applications
  • Resumes and interview preparation and “soft skills” training 
  • Career exploration/transition 
  • Connections to apprenticeships, internships, and externships
  • Referrals to mental health professionals, legal assistance, and direct services
  • Meetings with probation officers and writing character references

Rancho Cielo’s case managers also have specialized training in trauma-informed healing practices and culturally relevant programming, which they draw upon every day. It’s compassionate support that helps students process their trauma, envision possibilities and opportunities in life, and recognize the importance of the choices they make today.

This includes proactively employing non-punitive practices to de-escalate situations and resolve issues, and avoiding certain words that trigger trauma (often unintentionally). For example, a conversation between a case manager and an instructor can help with understanding students’ specific situations, and how to positively reframe their interactions with them. In turn, the case manager may explain to a student a teacher’s perspective, helping them understand where the instructor is coming from.