FamilyLightsm: Successor to Bridge to Understanding
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Residential schools and programs have a special responsibility to maintain quality communication with parents.  This is a major difference between the schools and programs serving private sector families and agencies that are publicly funded. More often than not the publicly funded schools and programs do not do an acceptable job with this; more often than not, the parents are scapegoated by these programs.  The funding agency is treated as customer.  More often than not the programs that parents pay for out of pocket do a good job with this; parents are treated as customer.

Parent/family communication:

  • Parents are part of the team and should be involved in discussions of treatment strategy.

  • Parents have right to approve or disapprove medication changes and educational course changes. 

  • Parents have a right to immediate notification of safe arrival of their son or daughter if they do not transport him/her personally. 

  • When parents or other close relatives are sponsoring or underwriting costs of a school or program, they are entitled to sufficient reporting to maintain accountability.  While we respect the legal issues involved in the fact that when young people reach the age of majority, right of confidentiality is a personal right, we encourage financial sponsorship to be subject to the young person's willingness to permit sufficient communication to allow the accountability to occur. We extend this to the include willingness to permit accountability to a referral source/case manager.  We expect schools and programs to encourage this posture by sponsors; when schools and programs do not support this condition on sponsorship we believe that provides reasonable basis to conclude that the school or program does not want to be subject to proper accountability.  When schools and programs indicate that "need to support independence of the young person" is a reason not to support this condition as a matter of therapeutic policy, we simply do not believe that this is truly a clinical judgment, but a ruse to avoid accountabilty.

  • Again, with all due respect for the independence of young adults, the fact that a young person has reached the age of majority is not a valid  reason for failing to ensure that the work of the school or treatment program delivers its services in the context of ensuring that family issues are addressed therapeutically.

  • See also Family Guidelines

Referral source communication:

  • Schools and programs must not confuse referral sources with funding sources. Example: Schools funded by public school districts when the placement was guided by an educational consultant sometimes treat the school district as sole referral source.  This is inappropriate. 

  • Referral sources have different communication needs.  Some make a referral and are done.  Others expect to function as case managers for the entire time the student /client is in treatment.  In that case frequent and thorough communication is needed.

  • When the referral source functions as case manager or if there is a an outside case manager, that person needs regular direct communication with the key person or persons providing care.  While we recognize and respect that designated communication specialists or liaisons can help to facilitate communication, their role is not an adequate substitute for direct communication with primary caregivers. 

  • Reports to referral source must be full disclosure and candid. Reporting only good news for marketing purposes is unacceptable. 

  • Referral sources must be notified of any event likely to trigger a communication from parents before the parents are likely to be able to effect that communication. 

  • Referral source is entitled to immediate notification of the safe arrival of the student/client when the student arrives. 

Feedback is invited. We will  publish selected feedback.  Email

Disclaimer: No  program review, no matter how positive, is a blanket endorsement. No criticism is a blanket condemnation.  When we express our level of confidence in a school or program, that is our subjective opinion with which others might reasonably disagree.  When we assert something as fact, we have done our best to be accurate, but we cannot guarantee that all of our information is accurate and up to date. When we address compliance with our guidelines, you need to remember that these are only OUR guidelines -- not guidelines from an official source.  We have also set the bar very high, and do not expect any school or program to be in total compliance.  It is not appropriate to draw a conclusion of impropriety (or even failure to live up to conventional wisdom) from our lack of confidence in a school or program or from less than perfect conformity to our guidelines.  Some will say we expect too much. Readers are responsible for verifying accuracy of information supplied here prior to acting upon it. We are not responsible for inaccuracies.

 Last update December 6, 2008

                                    "Solutions, Not Just Referrals"

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