On October 6th and 7th Waterford Country School hosted Martha Holden from Cornell University’s Residential Child Care Project and author of the (CARE) model. The Residential Child Care Project has been invited to over 40 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, Russia, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom with its ongoing programs to prevent institutional child abuse and improve the quality of residential childcare. The widely disseminated Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) System is used in hundreds of residential child care institutions an d has also been adapted for other congregate care settings, as well as for foster and adoptive families. The Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) project implements and evaluates a program model based on a set of research-based principles to help child care agencies re-align their organizational practices around the best interests of children.
Waterford Country School is very fortunate to be one of the first agencies in the country to experience Cornell University’s new Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) Program. CARE is a “best practice” model that creates conditions for change for youth in congregate care. We have been involved with Cornell since we adopted the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) Program in 1994. TCI is a comprehensive program designed to guide staff in their working with youth during a crisis. 100% of our direct care, clinical, education and administrative staff are trained in this model.
Released in 2008, CARE is a brilliantly crafted framework for children in out of home care based upon a thorough review of the literature and research. It identifies six principal domains of treatment and builds a set of guidelines for staff around these domains. The CARE framework meets each child where they are developmentally and helps guide them to an enhanced level of functioning. The model is built upon the premise that children do well if they can. This framework charges staff to find what contributes to a child’s developmental disruption and to address those issues to get them back on track.
CARE emphasizes the importance of a congruent approach on all levels and across all persons, the youth in care, their families and the staff. All WCS staff whether they are direct care workers or administrative staff are trained in the CARE model to keep the agency’s approach consistent. In 2009 we adopted the CARE model as our agency model and became trained by Martha Holden, Tom Endres and Jack Holden from the Cornell Residential Child Care Project. We were then given the ability to provide our own CARE trainers so that everyone in the agency was part of this new way of operation. Since then, every new staff member has been trained in CARE. We have learned about the importance of shifting rules to expectations, moving from control to order, being flexible in our expectations, and shifting from consistency across children to consistency within children. It has completely changed our outlook from being “crisis oriented” to being “relationship oriented”. Our physical restraint percentage has been drastically reduced while our relationships with the kids we work with has improved. We have had such success with the CARE approach that we are now asked to share our journey with others.
On October 7th, 2016 Waterford Country School hosted nine agencies and Martha Holden for a Community of Practice Event. Martha presented updates on CARE and answered questions. Each agency was given time to share their own journey to CARE. The attendees broke into focus group discussions on how to bring CARE or continue rolling out the model in their own agencies. It was a wonderful day for us to reflect on how far we’ve come. Our Agency now has the direction that it has sought for so long. CARE is our framework for treatment and our guide for providing the highest level of services for our youth and their families. We are so inspired by the changes we’ve seen and hope to encourage others to their own success.
Many thanks to Martha Holden from Cornell University, The Brandon School, Children’s Home, Community Health Resources, Hillside Family of Agencies, Martin De Porres School, Spurwink, Sweetser, and The Village for attending this CARE community event at Waterford Country School.