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News & Views - Dec, 1992 Issue 

Intermountain Children's Home
Tina Johnson, Director of Social Services
Helena, Montana

Founded in 1909 as an orphanage for children, the home became a specialized residential treatment home in 1980. They are now on a 40 acre location on the edge of Helena treating boys and girls between the ages of five and twelve at admission who are moderately and seriously emotionally disturbed. The current population is 24 students which will increase when new construction is completed. It is a private, non-profit organization, governed by a board of trustees, and is licensed as a child care agency for residential treatment by the state of Montana, and also operates under the auspices of the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and the Glacier Presbytery. Over 50% of their income comes from private contributions. "The treatment model utilized...is the Attachment Model. We view children's pathology and attachment problems to be intertwined. For some children, there is an early failure to bond to parenting figures; for others, a disruption of the bonding process. In either case, over a period of time, the child develops a collection of learned behaviors to avoid and resist the demands of bonding. "Children with attachment difficulties do not trust adults or caregivers care, control, or incorporate the behaviors and values of their caregivers. They develop behaviors that control others, keep others at a distance, and they meet their needs through manipulation or withdrawal." "Each child lives in a small group setting of eight children who are under the care of at least two staff during waking hours and one awake staff at night. The task of the milieu is seen as the creation of an environment that facilitates close, intense personal relationships while confronting behaviors that interfere with that closeness. This milieu provides a caring environment focused on treatment incorporating family values and qualities. The process becomes a re-education in living."

Copyright 1992, 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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