Home again: A residential program for latency-aged foster children

Alexandra C. Gerson (2005)

This dissertation project is a design for a therapeutic, long-term, residential program for latency-aged children in foster care. The program serves a neglected population with limited resources. In Chapter I, a statement of the problem is articulated by making use of current national statistics regarding latency-aged foster children. The impact of the federal 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act on the care and education of foster children is examined. An individual clinical perspective is explored via a simulated case vignette of Ray, an eight-year-old boy in foster custody. The limitations of the current approach to long-term foster care are illuminated, and the context for Winnicott's ideas and approach to helping children is identified. In Chapter II, the literature is reviewed to provide a conceptual foundation for the program's development and its implementation. This literature includes: object relations theory; the ideas and concepts of D. W. Winnicott on the self, facilitating environment, capacities in health, and the antisocial tendency; the developmental stage of latency; attachment relationships, trauma and reparation; and children in long-term foster care. In Chapter III, the elements of the methodological approach to the program design are defined. They include: Senge's (1990) disciplines of the learning organization; Laufer's (1996) Family Group Care "Cluster" model; elements of The Eagle Rock School (2004); and Stufflebeam's (1983) Context Input Process Product (CIPP) model of evaluation. In Chapter IV, the conceptual elements are integrated with the methodological approach to develop a therapeutic, long-term, residential program. The program is defined with respect to: philosophy, structure, resources, staffing, intervention points, and evaluation. Chapter V concludes the dissertation project with a discussion of implications of the program for program development, the training and development of mental health professionals, research, and public policy