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Contests and Rewards (The Coffee Can Program)

By Mike Hyde, The Webmaster

The Coffee Can Program was something I developed at our first facility, it was a program we used to improve motivation in our behavioral program, and this is how it worked:

We had two cans, a large can and a small can. In each can were different coupons, for such things as 10 daily bonus points, a no chore day, extra 20 minute phone call to family, one-time one-hour later bedtime, choose your favorite meal (of course this was in reason-no steak and lobster) and the favorite was “winners choice” The winners choice coupon was like a wild card, it could be used as any coupon. You could easily adapt the coupons to your situation and program.

The youth with the highest average weekly score, would be able to draw, without looking, one coupon from that large can, which by the way, had the best coupons. The youth with the highest score for one day, would be able to draw a coupon from the small can. Having the small can for the highest daily score worked as a motivational tool for kids that may not be having the best week. They can decide at any time to try harder and still be able to accomplish winning the highest daily score. Many times our small can winner was somebody that has just been busted for a major incident the day before and had NO Chance at the weekly prize but had decided to do better working the program.

The youth were allowed to save their coupons: there were no expiration dates on the coupons, so they could use them when ever. 10 bonus points were pretty handy to have on a bad day, or an extra 20 minute phone call on a mothers birthday, etc. However, the youth were not allowed to give their coupons to other youth; if you wanted a coupon you had to earn it. We wrote their names and dates won on the backs of the coupons, so we knew who they belonged to.

The kids in our house loved this program and it helped several kids, do better, and get the jump start they needed, to work their way through the program. However, before you start a similar program, check with your administrator. When we started ours, we had to change a few of the coupons, because the director, wouldn’t allow them. Checking with him first, saved me from having a big problem later.

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