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Group Homes for Teens
Group homes have a lot to offer troubled teens. At present there are no generally accepted definitions in the field for “group homes” and “group residences.” In time these terms have come to apply that there are many different types of group living structures for children who indicate delinquent behaviors. Presumably the outcome in a residential program will show good progress in performance from the child, due to what the program has done with and for the child.
The following are some ideas that one may want to consider when looking for a group home: will the group home provide the proper therapy that is needed for the child? Is the group home licensed as a specialty boarding school, with therapeutic values? Is the staff properly licensed and trained in the group home facility? How many children are housed in the facility? One should always go to the group home and walk through the facility before making a placement of a child. It also helps to ask for references from other group homes or parents who have used the group home for their own child.
One should discuss the idea of a group home with the entire family. This helps in making an educated decision on if the group home is the right facility for the troubled child. There might be other options for the child, so check out more than one idea on how to deal with the particular problems facing them. This is a big life changing decision for the family as well as the adolescent so it is imperative that one do as much investigation as possible so that the parents can feel comfortable in getting the help needed for the family.
The cost of a group home can be quite expensive. Much of the cost depends on what type of treatment that the troubled youth needs. Some group homes can cost as much as $ 30,000.00 to $ 50,000.00 dollars per year. The cost can be quite daunting but don’t get too discouraged because there are insurance companies and policies that help pay for treatment. Sometimes there are state funded programs that help defer the cost. Most good group homes have insurance options. One can also contact the state and local governments that have subsidy programs which help offset the cost of group homes. There are also church and local groups such as the lions club or rotary clubs that make donations to group homes for families in need.
The question is, how much help does the child need and is a group home going to be the best option? If the child needs to be removed from the elements and environment in order to protect their safety, then the money becomes a secondary factor. If the child needs to be put in a more positive, supportive environment then get the help needed. Usually a payment plan can be worked out with the facility. Most group homes have financing through banks and other lending institutions. Group homes can help the child to develop new ideas and become a better person so don’t let money get in way.
Group homes and group programs have been around for along time. Some examples are: The Boys Club, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, halfway houses (not so much today), and training schools. We can review the ideas of group homes from the 1900’s, where the idea of developing aftercare for our youth while using a direct care agency was formulated in lieu of institutions and foster care.
Group homes can be misleading; if you look at the term “institution for dependent children” you legitimize the placing of the child. The courts may classify these group homes by saying dependent, neglected, or delinquent, but these classifications do not describe their needs or their psychosocial functioning. All normal children have problem areas in their lives. Since we are discussing the children who are placed in care facilities or who need placement in a group home, it seems necessary to distinguish the psychosocial and diagnostic variables.
There are three forms of group care for the normal child, 1- foster care 2- group homes 3- child care centers or dependency institutions. All three of these modalities have given valuable services to children. The utilization of these modalities for normal children depends on the age of the child. Ages three through six are in need of different care than those that are twelve to sixteen years of age. If the child is in a good environment between the ages of three and six, there is hope that the child will change for the better. Once the child becomes a preteen or teenager, it becomes more difficult to change their behaviors.
Here is some information on teens that live in group homes. Most group homes accommodate fifteen to twenty children. There seems to be a therapeutic component to a group home program. There is also an education service taught so that the child does not get behind in school. Most group homes are residential so that the child can be removed from negative influences, such as peer pressures or negative activities with other siblings. When looking at group homes don’t assume that the home includes group therapy, twelve step programs, or schooling. There are group homes that forget that they are there for the children and become warehouses for delinquent children.
When presenting a thorough philosophy of group home care we see that it does not come easy and can be quite expensive, but if it is a good group home, it is well worth the expense and will have long lasting benefits and results. The family and child, along with the community, will see the value in the ever vast problem of juvenile rehabilitation.
Joseph L. Taylor. Jerome L. Singer, Harriet Goldstein, Margret O. Tsaltasw. Elaine Kasowski. A Program of the Association for Jewish Children of Philadelphia. Child welfare League of America, Inc.1976
Morris Fritz Mayer. Leon H. Richman. Edwin A. Balcerzak. Child welfare League of America Group Care of Children Crossroads and Transitions. 1977
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