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Opinion & Essays - Apr, 1995 Issue #33 

A Parent's Guide to Evaluating Treatment Programs for Troubled Youth
by: Jacki Allred and Claudia Olsen
Jefferson Resource Institute, Inc.

Any parent who has been faced with finding an appropriate placement for a child with emotional/behavioral problems is well aware that the saying "buyer beware" is very true. Parents thrust into making this kind of decision have a double disadvantage. They doubt themselves because of the turmoil created by the child, and every expert seems to have different and conflicting advice. Most experts advise from his/her own bias, and all too many programs are more interested in getting an enrollment than making an objective look at the needs of the individual child. All too frequently, confused and desperate parents place their child in the first program that sounds plausible. Sometimes it is a disaster if the program is inappropriate or of minimum quality. 

Where Can We Turn? is a handbook for parents trying to make the difficult decision of placement for a child. This small volume (34 pages) is packed with important questions a parent needs to have answered to their satisfaction in order to understand what the program is really doing, and if it will be good for their child. Red flag answers are noted throughout the book which in effect say, If you get this answer, this program might be more interested in your money than in helping your child. The answers given in the book are clear and concise. 

The emphasis in this handbook is on selecting a treatment program, but allowance is made for wilderness, experiential, and other types of programs that can be described more as structured Emotional Growth schools and programs. The questions are gathered together in ten sections. 

The volume is 5 2" by 8 2", a good size to carry in a purse or briefcase, so it can be handy at any time or place when needed. This can be a valuable tool for both parents and referring professionals in helping them to slow down and clearly think through what needs to be done. (For ordering information, see the last page, pg. 18) 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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