Children and Youth in Limbo: A Search for Connections

By Nadia Ehrlich Finkelstein | Go to book overview

cannot be separated from family issues because learning problems often originate in the family and need to be addressed there.

Program organization is frequently more related to historical origin, licensing, and funding than to the best interests of clients and their needs. In addition to organizational difficulties, there are many different perspectives on theoretical frameworks, philosophies of care, and service styles among service providers. Clients are often caught in the middle, bounce from one type of provider to another, and regress.

Given the complex nature of family problems in our society, there needs to be a program design based on a comprehensive philosophy of care, even though methods and style may vary. This philosophy should acknowledge that "nobody comes from no place." Every human being originates from a mother and father, and therefore does have a family or families of origin, whether known or unknown to that person. Family service practice needs to validate the existence of family and look to create access and networks to whatever extent possible. All youngsters need to know who will care for them until they can care for themselves; therefore, attention to permanency planning, roots, and connections must be an integral part of every helping program. Systems should be designed to validate assets as a way to put people in charge of their own lives.

Those who have experienced difficulties in forming meaningful relationships often do not develop sufficient ability to transfer new skills for living in the community after discharge from a therapeutic program. Therefore, the service agency needs to conceive support programs that can be made available on an as-needed, sometimes an ongoing, basis, to assist people to function in the community.

Two possible models of care can be posited. One is an array of child and family services, from the least restrictive, such as clinic services, to the most restrictive, such as residential services, all provided by one agency. The other is a similar array but with different agencies providing different components. Although organizational and training issues are problems in both options, team training within one comprehensive philosophy of care becomes even more complex in the second model. In reality, these models are never mutually exclusive. Communities benefit from flexibility and consumer choice options.


NOTE
1
Based on the recommendations of a study by the Child Welfare League of America, the Albany Home for Children, now known as Parsons Child and Family Center, made this transition in 1959 [ Maguire 1985:61].

-84-

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