Higher placements for youth face a unique challenge: developing a flexible, evidence-based intervention system for a particularly high-risk population. Common themes in the lives of these youth include complex trauma, self-harm, conduct problems, and lack of developmentally-appropriate social skills. A number of practices are reviewed in the present study, including models for the treatment milieu, specific intervention procedures, models of therapy, and measures to assess children’s mental health outcomes. The review revealed that a number of evidence-based practices are available for this population, but appropriate models should be chosen depending on the characteristics (i.e. age, presenting problem) of the population. Integration of multiple evidence-based practices is recommended in order to best serve youth, and continuous evaluation of said practices and exploration of further practices is likely necessary in order to achieve and maintain improved program outcomes. Common themes within these models is the need for a social-emotional curriculum, trauma-informed care, a relationship-based system, adequate staff and system supports, use of reinforcement, reduction of punishment, preventative practice, a data driven system, and including input from youth. In accountability measures, the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Assessment Tool (CANS) seemed to be the most cost-effective, least time-intensive measure while retaining strong psychometric properties. This report was prepared for St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Minneapolis (a division of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis) and its emergency shelter, residential treatment, and day treatment programs, with support from the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.
It is no secret that child welfare in the United States is in a constant state of crisis. Even more so, oft-forgotten higher placements such as congregate care and day treatment settings for youth tend to maintain a state of “survival mode”. St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Minneapolis is no different - staff interviews indicated high levels of burnout, turnover, and inadequate program supplies. With maintaining the status quo already being so difficult in higher placements due to these factors; it is understandable why comprehensive changes in interventions may be infrequent and difficult to implement. The purpose of the present project was to conduct a literature review of practices in congregate care and day treatment settings in order to recommend potential new practices to Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a part of their strategic envisioning process for St. Joseph’s Home for Children.
Conducted on behalf of Catholic Charities. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
The Struggle: A Review of Common and Evidence-Based Practices in Shelter Care, Residential Treatment, and Day Treatment for Youth.
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