This report presents the results of a literature review that examined the definition and features of juvenile group homes, as well as their target population and general effects on their residents.
A "group home" is a community-based, long-term facility for juveniles who have extensive contact with community services and institutions, such as school or employment; however, the literature has only a few clear differentiations between the various types of placements for juveniles and at-risk youth. In the 2008 Juvenile Residential Facilities Census, just over 100 facilities self-identified as both residential treatment centers and group homes. This lack of a standardized definition and program variability makes it difficult to generalize findings from evaluation research. Youth may be placed in a group home for a variety of reasons, including parental abuse or neglect, behavioral problems, or delinquent behavior. The dominant treatment approach currently being used in therapeutic group homes is the "teaching family model," which relies on structural behavioral interventions conducted by trained staff. Individual psychotherapy and group interaction are also used in some group homes. Evaluation results for group homes suggest that positive behavioral change occurs in residents while they are in the group home, but there is little evidence that these behavioral changes are sustained over time. This paper advises that the likelihood of long-term positive effects for residents of group homes may be increased by viewing the group home as only one step in a continuum of care that emphasizes ongoing treatment after discharge from the home. It also recommends that additional rigorous research be conducted to determine the effectiveness of group homes in addressing problem behaviors and reducing risks of delinquency, as well as the adverse effects on behavior of interaction with deviant peers in group homes. 11 references
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Date Published: January 1, 2008