Using Congregate Care: What the Evidence Tells Us
Despite long-standing criticisms and the preference for less restrictive placement settings, congregate care remains an important component of the care continuum used to meet the complex behavioral and mental health needs of children and youth who cannot live at home (Dinges et al., 2008; Blau et al., 2014; Butler & McPherson, 2007; Whittaker et al., 2016). High-quality, tailored congregate care placements with strong program models and highly qualified practitioners do serve as an important placement alternative for children and youth with complex clinical needs who require a short-term stay in a treatment facility (Blau et al., 2014; Daly et al., 2018; James, 2011). The 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which alters federal policy concerning congregate care, preserves the appropriate use of congregate care through an emphasis on family-based placements and the development of qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs). Against this backdrop, we aim to answer the following four major research questions with this report:
- What is congregate care utilization over time?
- What is the likelihood of entering congregate care as the first placement? How does that likelihood vary?
- For children whose first care type was in congregate care, how stable were those congregate care spells? How long did those congregate care spells last? Where did the children go when they left those congregate care spells? And did they ever reenter out-of-home care after reaching permanency from those congregate care spells?
- How does the utilization of congregate care line up with the requirements related to federal reimbursement under the FFPSA?
You can download the full report here.