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The children's home of Winnipeg : a review of recent developments: from orphanage to treatment centre, 1950-1953. Mahon, Elma

Abstract

This thesis is primarily a review of specific aspects of a residential treatment centre for emotionally disturbed children recently established by the Winnipeg Children's Home. The review covers only the first three years of operation of this centre and is not intended as a technical evaluation of the service offered by this new social agency. Rather, an attempt has been made to compare the facilities of the Winnipeg Children's Home with those of similar residential treatment centres in the United States. The specific aspects chosen for closer scrutiny are: (1) The Age and Sex Groups served, (2) Housing, (3) Personnel, (4) Diagnostic Study and Intake Procedure and (5) Treatment Programme. As a basis of comparison a descriptive study of twelve residential treatment centres in the United States has been used. Five of these have been selected for closer study because they more closely resemble the agency being reviewed. Case studies, annual reports and other pertinent material from the files of the Winnipeg Children's Home has been used, coupled with the writer's first-hand experience as a member of the staff of this agency. Because residential treatment centres for emotionally disturbed children are a new tool in child welfare, an historical background of foster care for children has been included. The question of qualified personnel to serve in a residential treatment centre has been of paramount importance in each centre studied. This pertains not only to social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists but also to house-parents who are key people in each project. To date, insufficient attention has been given to the training of house-parents; that is a matter which might well come within the scope of schools of social work. Further, in relation to the question of personnel, this thesis attempts to highlight the fact that in all communities, the best qualified social workers should be used in the area of family and child welfare. The study of twelve centres used as criteria in this thesis makes evident the shortage of psychiatric time so necessary to the successful operation of a residential treatment centre. This is true of the Winnipeg community. The administration of the Winnipeg Children's Home demonstrated early in the life of this new project that financial costs of this service are, of necessity, high. This fact was confirmed by the study of twelve centres used as criteria. If a project such as that undertaken by the Winnipeg Children's Home is to be successful, the need has to be accepted by and made the responsibility of the total community. Finally, but of considerable importance to all communities is the tendency to invest funds in lavish buildings which can be useless without adequate staff.

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