Treatment Best Practices for Youths in Group Homes

Evidence-based practice, systems of care, and engagement from family have become increasingly important across youth welfare services, including residential treatment. But for youths in group homes, best practices for treatment need to be reviewed and potentially retooled in some instances to help them achieve a successful transition back to their community.

The group home treatment field needs a mix of outcome studies and rigorous experimental designs that use standard measures across various researches better to understand youths’ unique needs in group homes. And while many youths improve in some areas of functioning during therapeutic residential care, or TRC, emotional and psychological gains are usually lost after their return to the community.

The likelihood of maintaining these gains after discharge can be increased by involving a resident’s family in the treatment process before discharge, achieving stability in the place where the youth goes after being discharged, and ensuring that aftercare support is available for the child and his or her family.

Below is a list of various group home risk management and care practices that provide youths the opportunity to find the support they need when hoping to live a more even-keeled and community-driven life after discharge.

A Well-Rounded Approach to Treatment

There are many components of a multi-dimensional assessment where a youth’s family and other members play an important role. But some parts of the assessment need to be conducted by a trained professional, such as reviewing scores from trauma, depression, or substance abuse or behavioral functioning rating assessment.

The following treatment practices and areas of clinical focus appear to be crucial in creating high-quality therapeutic residential care.

  • Individualize child-specific care to address specific trauma and risk behavior in residential settings as well as community services.
  • Address other areas of child functioning, including academic and life skills.
  • Support a trauma-centered therapeutic approach and a positive working relationship between staff and youth.
  • Minimize lengths of stay, including the use of short repeatable therapeutic care episodes.
  • Help youths learn skills for managing their emotions and behaviors.
  • Integrate family while youths are in residence and as part of phase-out planning with the child’s case manager.
  • Provide timely aftercare services to the family as needed.

The goal of these elements of a group home risk management and treatment plan is to reduce everything from deviant behaviors to significant stress and depression episodes. In a round-the-clock-type environment, childcare workers can be powerful members who help treat youths in need of support and rehabilitation.

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