Children and Youth in Limbo: A Search for Connections

By Nadia Ehrlich Finkelstein | Go to book overview

9
The Group Home or Community Residence: Dilemmas and Opportunities for Community Support

Group homes, or community residences as they are sometimes called, have traditionally been intended to provide a living environment for young people who cannot live with their families, are not with foster families, are not ready to live independently, and yet are able to live in an ordinary community. Given the complex needs of populations now being served, this model of care will be discussed with a focus on how it can best fit into an array of placement options.


INTRODUCTION

The children's group home, sometimes called a community residence, is at a crossroads. We in the profession of children's services need to establish what it can and cannot be expected to do in an array of placement services for young people and their families.

Historically, institutions for children went through a "children's home" phase. Some eventually became residential treatment centers for severely troubled populations. However, in some parts of the country "children's homes" continue to exist, are staffed by houseparents, and serve youngsters who have the necessary coping skills to live in the community. These youth attend public schools, participate in community activities, but live in these congregate settings, which sometimes are similar to a cluster of group homes.

A survey of the literature demonstrates that there are many effective community-based residential and group home programs in some communities [ Adams and Baumbach 1980; Schneider et al. 1982; Walsh 1985]. Yet regardless of whether these models are referred to as institutions, clusters

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