Stepping Stones Treatment Center


Established as an Akeela, Inc., program in 2006, Stepping Stones Treatment Center is a 9- to 12-month long residential treatment program for mothers with substance use disorders. Stepping Stones provides apartment-style residences for mothers to live in with their children while receiving a minimum of 20 hours per week of substance use disorder treatment. The Stepping Stones family-centered treatment program provides a range of services including: counseling for substance use disorders, children’s services, case management, parenting education, employment/vocational assistance, and mental health services within a modified therapeutic community. The overarching goal of the program is to reestablish pro-social living, as well as the mental and physical health of the family unit. The inclusion of children and children’s services is a vital component to breaking the intergenerational cycle of addiction.

The Stepping Stones philosophy is, “to witness self-revealing change in understanding personal emotion, self-discipline, and self-control in their recovery.” This philosophy is used as an articulation of the program’s core beliefs in efforts to help the women maintain focus when things are going well or hard and challenging. Within the community, women strive to be a “sister’s keeper” as both the milieu and the treatment team work collaboratively to promote accountability, empathy, and constructive confrontation. The use of the peer community serves as a major treatment component.

Summary of Innovative Program

Special Populations

Stepping Stones serves women who are assessed for a III.5 residential level of care according to American Society of Addiction Medicine criteria (ASAM) to address their substance use disorders. The program provides wraparound services to these women and their children who reside with them while in treatment to help achieve long-term sobriety, independence, and healthy parent-child relationships. As a result of the location in a hub city, the program serves a high percentage of Alaska Native women and their children, many of whom come from a rural village. In an effort to honor and value the diversity of our women and children, cultural enrichment activities are promoted. Activities are often identified through partnerships with faith-based and tribal organizations that allow families the opportunity to engage in community support activities and mutual self-help systems. Additionally, more than 90% of all referrals for treatment are from open cases with child welfare through the Office of Children’s Services. These children have been removed from the home due to their parents’ substance use issues. The use of the therapeutic community model provides a platform to treat the whole person, utilizing the peer community in conjunction with a wide array of evidenced-based interventions which fit both mother and children.

Program Replication Tips

Stepping Stones is a family-centered modified therapeutic community with a holistic approach to multi-dimensional change. The goal of the therapeutic community is to offer a lifestyle that promotes chemical abstinence, elimination of anti-social behavior, development of employable skills and the acquisition of positive attitudes, values, and behaviors, known as “Right Living” within the milieu. Therapeutic communities use a combination of individual counseling, group therapy, and peer-led interventions to promote comprehensive change in community membership, socialization, psychological and developmental abilities. A critical component of care also includes a broad range of individualized children’s services including, but not limited to, assessment, individual counseling, case management, cultural enrichment activities, and educational support.

Stepping Stones provides:

  • Wraparound services including substance use counseling, milieu therapy,case management, parenting education, and mental health services (to include psychiatric evaluation and medication management).
  • On-site childcare facilities as well as psychotherapy services for children and the family.
  • Therapeutic community model by utilizing house tools including community job functions, a daily regimen of structured activities, constructive confrontation, and community as method interventions.
  • Individualized treatment as both client and treatment staff participates in the continual assessment and treatment planning process.
  • Linkage to cultural enrichment activities as an integral program component.

Policy & Financing Strategies


Stepping Stones strives to have policies, procedures, and standards of practices that fully embrace the organizational and program mission. As such, the organization adheres to clear policies which support the therapeutic community model of residential care. An annual revision of policy is implemented to ensure outdated practices, policies, and interventions are addressed and remain aligned with the nationally recognized best practices available.


Stepping Stones has made attempts to diversify funding resources as a simple measure to safeguard financial sustainability. At present, the program is funded through a comprehensive community block grant for treatment and recovery services as well as Medicaid. Additionally, the program boasts significant in-kind support and volunteer staff as tertiary resources. However, financial resources remain an ongoing struggle as funding is never guaranteed from year to year.

Impact / Results

Stepping Stones consistently remains between 90- 100% capacity as referrals for service are received from mothers and agencies throughout the state. As a result of the diversity of communities serviced, Stepping Stones strives to provide every client with the tools to achieve long-term sobriety, a healthy family unit, and independence within their community. Graduates of the program leave equipped to pursue stable employment, safe and sober housing, healthy sober support systems, and aftercare treatment. Mothers who have lost legal custody of their children prior to admission are reunified through treatment, and graduate with the confidence and skills necessary to parent their children in sobriety. Most importantly, though – graduates leave with hope, a concrete foundation for their recovery, continued strengthening of their familial bonds and established roots in the recovery community at large.

Agency Contact Information

Agency Name:Akeela, Inc.
City, StateAnchorage, Alaska
General Phone Number:(907) 565-1200
Website URL: