Why Alternative Schools Should Provide Parenting Skills Programs

This study argues that special schools should provide  parenting skills programs to parents of students in an effort to reduce behaviour problems at the school. Behaviour problems are a key reason why children/young people are excluded from school. This is especially true for those in residential care and the youth justice systems. To be excluded from school then reduces their…

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Matching children to foster carers? Only in your dreams!

My heart leapt when I read the title of this article. I thought perhaps we could improve outcomes for children in foster care by better matching them to foster carers. Sadly, I was disappointed. Nonetheless the article’s literature review may be of interest to Practitioners as it provides a summary of the key findings on matching children to foster carers.…

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A powerful beat: Using drumming to treat complex trauma

Practitioners working with traumatised young people are well aware of the importance of patterned repetitive activity (PRA) in treating complex trauma. Two recent publications have focused on the role of drumming or ‘drum therapy’ as a form of PRA: a podcast by Radio National’s ‘All in the Mind’ program called Healing Rhythms a book by Simon Faulkner called Rhythm to…

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If you want to reduce staff turnover, try improving staff supervision

High staff turnover has been a concern in the child protection and youth justice systems for many decades. A recent US study attempted to identify the causal factors that lead to high staff turnover amoungst child welfare staff in the US. The study is of interest not so much because its findings but rather because of the excellent summary it…

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Absconding from placements increases risk of contact with correctional systems Practitioners have long known that young people who abscond from placement are at increased risk. Academics from the University of Michigan in the United States have completed an interesting study looking at the relationship between absconding and entry into the juvenile and adult correctional justice systems. The study compared a…

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Quality of Staff -Client Relationships Impact Client Outcomes

Practitioners in the out-of-home care (OoHC) and youth justice (YJ) programs often state that their work is ‘all about relationships’, meaning  that a positive staff-client relationship is a necessary first step in achieving outcomes with the client. A recent Portuguese study adds to the body of evidence suggesting that this is in in fact the case. The aims of the…

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Practitioners who work with high-risk adolescents (HRA) often wonder who such adolescents turn to for help in times of crisis. A recent Israeli study looked at the differing reasons HRAs seek help from youth workers versus others, e.g. parents, peers and teachers. Youth workers are defined as workers in non-mainstream educational settings, which specialise in dealing with adolescents at risk.…

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What is Therapeutic Residential Care: A Consensus View

Practitioners often discuss what is and what is not therapeutic residential care (TRC). A group of academics have recently attempted to answer this question. The group, called the International Working Group on Therapeutic Care is made up of 30+ leading academics and thinkers on TRC. The lead author is well-known US academic James K Whittaker. The group includes two Australian…

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Violent Offenders: Is too little treatment worse than no treatment at all?

Researchers have long known the efficacy of psychological treatment to reduce violent offending by adult and juvenile offenders. An interesting US study suggests that ‘too little’ treatment may be worse than no treatment at all. The researchers use an ingenious natural experiment design to investigate the efficacy of ‘strong dose’ vs ‘weak dose’ treatments. In this context, ‘dose’ refers to…

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