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News & Views - Aug, 1992 Issue 

Reflections From Montana
L. Stednitz, Ph.D., Director
Western Youth Network
(800) 328-1877

It has been two months or so since I relocated to Montana. Aside from missing my good friends at Capistrano by The Sea Hospital, the move has been a “coming home” for me. In short, I love it! The beauty, vastness and fine people make for pleasant days and restful nights.

Having greater opportunity to be in direct contact with programs in the West has allowed me the luxury of closer first hand experience at distinguishing levels of quality and determining more clearly the specific differences in programs.

This vantage point has crystallized for me the value of sophisticated and thorough inpatient assessments of children and adolescents and careful placement. Placement out of the home is serious business. Unfortunately many placements are made on a “wing and a prayer”. Except for some highly qualified Independent Educational Consultants and State Placement specialists, parents and professionals have little direction in these crucial decisions.

There are many “common” errors in placement. Often, Youth are under diagnosed and placed in programs which lack the sophistication and structure to successfully treat. In other instances, over stating the child’s pathology results in a boy or girl being negatively influenced by a more severe population and paying more for it! In other instances, youth are placed in poorly funded and poorly organized programs that result in little or no progress for the child. The lost hope for a child is tragic, as is the financial cost to families.

Unfortunately, the worst programs for a child are often no less expensive! The first needs are to establish clearly the procedures and practices in assessment, and to develop networking channels to guide affective decisions.

The Western Youth Network and Lon Woodbury are currently reviewing these areas. California Western Youth Network Director, Helen Candas LCSW, is making great strides in developing effective inpatient assessments and placements. Lon and I continue to explore ways and services to link the assessment process to a network of programs which will serve children and adolescents’ needs effectively.

What new ways are there to maximize coordination of services? We Welcome your suggestions. Lon can be reached at 208-267-7717, and the Network by calling 800-328-1877.

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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