Daily Update June 13, 2016

Element of Effective Practice for Children and Youth served by Therapeutic Residential Care

For those of you who did not participate on the webinar with Dr. Peter Pecora on the Elements of Effective Practice for Children and Youth Served by Therapeutic Residential Care below is a wealth of information he provided.



As a companion to the paper on Elements of Effective Practice for Children and Youth Serviced by Therapeutic Residential Care, Casey Family Programs produced a set of infographics that provide national level statistics on the children and youth in congregate care. The information is available in two forms: a one-page infographic and a page-by-page series.  

Slide Deck

Click here for a pdf version of the slides Dr. Pecora covered during the webinar.

Background Information


Historically, group homes and residential treatment centers have been an important but controversial part of the child welfare continuum of services — part of a larger cluster of services called "congregate care."

Group homes and residential treatment centers have been challenged to better define their intervention models and the youth they are best suited to serve within a context of child welfare values that include serving children in the least restrictive alternative settings with the most effective interventions. They have been asked to "right size" lengths of stay, to involve family members more extensively in treatment, to do more than manage problem behaviors by helping youth heal and learn skills for managing their emotions and behaviors that they can use in the community, and to conduct more extensive evaluation studies. States vary substantially in how extensively they use congregate care and for which groups of children and youth.

This research brief summarizes research that identifies key elements of effective practice that are based on the needs of children and youth referred to therapeutic residential care. It also describes how certain interventions and broader systems reforms, when implemented together, can help ensure that the right service, at the right dosage and at the right time, are provided — and for the shortest amount of time necessary — to achieve key therapeutic and permanency planning goals.

Presenter Bio

Peter J. Pecora, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Dr. Pecora has a joint appointment as the Managing Director of Research Services for Casey Family Programs, and Professor, School of Social Work, University of Washington. He began his career as the house manager for a shelter care home for runaway youth and then worked in family foster care. Peter has worked with a number of state departments of social services in the United States and in other countries to refine foster care programs, implement intensive home-based services, and design risk assessment systems for child protective services.

With faculty from UCLA and USC, he evaluated community-based child abuse prevention strategies in Los Angeles. With Walter R. McDonald and Associates he evaluated group care reform in California. Currently with Mathmatica Research Corporation, he is evaluating ACES-focused community-based networks and is developing fidelity assessment measures for risk assessment systems. He has published many journal articles and books, including:

  • Pecora, P. J., Kessler, R. C., Williams, J., Downs, A. C., English, D., & White, J. & O'Brien, K. (2010). What works in family foster care? Identifying key components of success from an alumni follow-up study.  Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  • Pecora, P.J., Whittaker, J.K., Maluccio, A.N.; Barth, R.P.  & DePanfilis, D.  (2009). The child welfare challenge. (Third Edition.) Piscataway, NJ: Aldine-Transaction Books.  (Previous editions published in 1992 and 2000.)
  • McCauley, C., Pecora, P.J., & Rose, W.E. (Eds.) (2006). Enhancing the Well Being of Children and Families through Effective Interventions - International Evidence for Practice. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Pecora served on the (1) National Advisory Committee for the Child National Traumatic Stress Network; and (2) Committee on the Prevention of Mental Health Disorders and Substance Abuse for the Board on Children, Youth, and Families. (This is a joint board of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. The committee report was issued in the summer of 2009.) 

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The Georgia Conference on Children and Families  - November 2-4, 2016