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News & Views - June, 1994 Issue #28 


May 13-14, 1994 

A small and enthusiastic group gathered at Shamrock Acres in Newman Lake, Washington to talk shop, compare notes, visit with old friends and make new friends. Informal arrangements for support and mutual referring were made as networking took hold. The only ones who were disappointed were those who were unable to attend and missed out. 

The weather was favorable and much of the time was spent outdoors around the solar heated swimming pool enjoying the view overlooking Newman Lake and the valley and mountains east of Spokane. Everyone had a chance to pet one of the Wallabies (a small version of the kangaroo - but we had to stay away from the mother with the baby in her pouch), watch the Emu (a smaller version of the ostrich) graze with its friend the llama, deal with a herd of curious and friendly Llamas gathering around to see who the visitors were, and watch and listen to the peacocks strut and show their stuff and talk to each other. Brian and Betty O'Donnell's new home across the road from the school is very comfortable and conducive to mingling and relaxing. Our thanks to Brian and Betty for inviting us all into their home! 

One question that was discussed throughout the two days was the nature of emotional growth/special purpose schools. One common observation was that they are a form of surrogate parenting. That is, instead of approaching the child with behavioral/emotional problems by developing a diagnosis and then carrying out a cure, the child is put into experiences and challenges with sensitive staff so the child can learn the basic lessons of life he/she might have missed in the early years. 

Another observation was that these programs provide challenges children can test themselves against, thus giving them a kind of "rite of passage." Another observation was that these schools and programs provide a balance of firmness and love, as opposed to programs which emphasize the love and are subject to manipulation, and those such as military based programs or corrections facilities which punish with discipline to change behavior. 

Reports would welcome any observations from readers to be printed in future editions. 

The other question which came up was state Health and Welfare practices relating to private schools and programs. One participant reported an experience in which a complaint was made, was investigated, and was found to be without significant grounds. However, the way it was handled by the state was objectionable, since it was handled by a social worker showing up unannounced and with a hostile attitude, and making threats she would shut them down if she didn't like their answers. Another situation was mentioned where a state settled a case for $67,000 on the basis that they in effect killed a program by taking actions that the state Supreme Court determined had been in violation of state law and basic principles of due process. Another case was mentioned where a program for teenagers had to spend thousands of dollars to have adequate diaper washing facilities because state law required it for all programs in that particular category. 

Lon agreed to collect information on similar incidents and bring it back to the next Get-together toward the aim of seeing if there were a pattern and if there are any suggested legislative solutions. Anyone having documentation of similar incidents, please contact Lon at 208-267-7717. 

It was agreed to continue these Get-togethers, with the next one being this Fall. Since Shamrock Acres is close to an airport and fairly central to many emotional growth programs, Brian and Betty offered to also host the next one at Shamrock Acres. Dates suggested were Friday and Saturday on September 23- 24, with alternate dates of September 30-October 1 and October 7- 8. 

Please get in touch with me if you have any preference of dates, information on problems with your state Health and Welfare Department, or definitions and/or observations on the uniqueness of Emotional Growth/Special Purpose schools and programs. -LON 

Copyright 1994, 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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