Child and Youth Care Forum

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 307–339 | Cite as

Treatment of Choice or a Last Resort? A Review of Residential Mental Health Placements for Children and Youth

  • Karen M. Frensch
  • Gary Cameron


Residential treatment programs serve troubled youth who tend to first fail in other treatment programs. Residential treatment is often regarded as a treatment of ‘last resorts.’ A review of available studies of the effectiveness of residential treatment delivered in group home settings and residential treatment centres concludes that, despite methodological shortcomings and variability in programming, residential services do improve functioning for some, but not all, youth. However, gains made during treatment are not easily maintained and tend to dissipate over time. The level of family involvement in treatment is generally regarded as predictive of posttreatment patterns of adjustment. Successful posttreatment patterns of adjustment also depend on posttreatment environmental factors such as available support and residential stability. Continued long-term followup of youth in residential treatment is critical to our understanding of the types of individuals for whom residential settings are a particularly good match.

residential placements children and youth group homes treatment outcomes 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen M. Frensch
    • 1
  • Gary Cameron
    • 2
  1. 1.Partnerships for Children and Families ProjectWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Wilfrid Laurier UniversityCanada

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