The Teaching-Family Model

The Teaching-Family Model

Smarter Parenting teaches skills from the Teaching-Family Model. One may ask what is the Teaching-Family Model. Below is the history and the impact the Teaching-Family Model has had in the world.

Genesis

In the late 1960’s, psychologists Elaine Phillips, Elery Phillips, Dean Fixsen, Montrose Wolf (the inventor of time-out as a learning tool to shape behavior) and Gary Timbers, PhD, developed an empirically tested treatment program to help troubled children and juvenile offenders who had been assigned to residential group homes. These researchers combined the successful components of their studies into the Teaching-Family Model, which offers a structured treatment regimen in a family-like environment. The model is built around a married couple (teaching-parents) that lives with children in a group home and teaches them essential interpersonal and living skills. Not only have teaching parents’ behaviors and techniques been assessed for their effectiveness, but they have also been empirically tested for whether children like them. Teaching-parents also work with the children’s parents, teachers, employers, and peers to ensure support for the children’s positive changes. Although more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that, compared to children in other residential treatment programs, children in Teaching-Family Model centers have fewer contacts with police and courts, lower dropout rates, and improved school grades and attendance.

Couples are selected to be teaching-parents based on their ability to provide individualized and affirming care. Teaching-parents then undergo an intensive year-long training process. In order to maintain their certification, teaching-parents and Teaching-Family Model organizations are evaluated every year, and must meet the rigorous standards set by the Teaching-Family Association is a model of care for troubled youth used internationally in group homes, treatment foster care, schools, home-based treatment, and other youth and dependent adult care programs. It was developed in the 1960s through research at the University of Kansas.

Many programs across the U.S. use this model of care, including Certified sites such as Thornwell Home for Children, Kenosha Human Development Services, Inc., The Children’s Home of CincinnatiVirginia Home for Boys and Girls, The Barium Springs Home For Children, Closer To Home Calgary, Alberta, Canada, The Indiana United Methodist Children’s Home, and Utah Youth Village. Sites are either Certified (Sponsor Agencies), Developing Agencies, or Supportive sites. Developing agencies like Children’s Village undergo extensive evaluation by a Sponsor Agency before becoming a Certified Agency.

WATCH: WHAT IS THE TEACHING-FAMILY MODEL

Based in Evidence

The Teaching-Family Model is one of the few evidence-based residential treatment programs for troubled children. In the past, many treatment programs viewed delinquency as an illness, and therefore placed children in institutions for medical treatment. The Teaching-Family Model, in contrast, views children’s behavior problems as stemming from their lack of essential interpersonal relationships and skills. Accordingly, the Teaching-Family Model provides children with these relationships and teaches them these skills, using empirically validated methods. With its novel view of problem behavior and its carefully tested and disseminated treatment program, the Teaching-Family Model has helped to transform the treatment of behavioral problems from impersonal interventions at large institutions to caring relationships in home and community settings. The Teaching-Family Model has also demonstrated how well-researched treatment programs can be implemented on a large scale. Most importantly, the Teaching-Family Model has given hope that young people with even the most difficult problems or behaviors can improve the quality of their lives and make contributions to society.

A Well Established Model

In recent years, the Teaching-Family Model has been expanded to include foster care facilities, home treatment settings, and even schools. The Teaching-Family Model has also been adapted to accommodate the needs of physically, emotionally, and sexually abused children; emotionally disturbed and autistic children and adults; medically fragile children; and adults with disabilities. Successful centers that have been active for over 30 years include the Bringing it All Back Home Study Center in North Carolina, the Houston Achievement Place in Texas, and the Girls and Boys Town in Nebraska. Other Teaching-Family Model organizations are in Alberta (Canada), Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Teaching-Family Association (TFA) is an international organization founded in 1975 to promote this model of care. More information can be found on their website by clicking here.

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