Document Type

Long-term Community Adaptation of Children and Youth Receiving Residential Mental Health Services

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


A key consideration in understanding the long term community adaptation of children and youth involved with residential treatment or intensive family services is the role that family plays in sustaining or eroding gains made by children and youth in treatment (Frensch & Cameron, 2002). This report includes a summary of family descriptive information, the nature of family relationships, and indicators of family functioning for children and youth who have participated in children’s mental health services.

Data were collected about youth who had been involved with children’s mental health residential treatment (RT) or intensive family service programs (IFS), designed as an alternative to residential treatment. Data were gathered about youth functioning at program entry, discharge, 12 to 18 months after leaving the program (Time 1 Follow Up), and 36 to 48 months post discharge (Time 2 Follow Up). Parent-reported measures were used to assess youth functioning prior to service involvement and at follow up. Admission and discharge information was gathered from program records.

Both youth and parents were asked a series of questions that assessed family functioning and feelings within the family. For example, parents indicated how often youth’s behaviour prevented the family from engaging in various family activities, like shopping or visiting. Parents were also asked about their family’s ability to make decisions or solve problems together. Youth in our study had the opportunity to speak freely about their families including what qualities they liked or disliked in their family members. We also sought to describe the characteristics of the families in our study. Parents were asked a series of demographic questions including the number of children in the home, marital status, and source of family income.