By Brian Clark, Executive Director
Perhaps the most important factor in the success of the Generations program since opening in 1991 has been our commitment to acting in the best interest of the children we serve. Central to this philosophy is the ability to adapt and evolve as an organization over time. In 2007, Generations took a significant step in that direction with the introduction of the CARE program.
The Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) model, first developed by the Residential Child Care Project at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology in 2005, is “designed to guide childcare agencies in establishing practices in the best interests of the child. The aim of CARE is to bring agencies’ current practices closer to well-researched best practices in residential care, and to help agencies achieve congruence between all levels of staff in order to improve how the agency works as a whole. Based on six guiding principles – developmentally focused, family involved, relationship based, competence centered, trauma informed, and ecologically oriented – the CARE model is designed to profoundly influence the way residential childcare professionals think about working with children” (visit www.rccp.cornell.edu for more information).
The CARE model has indeed had a profound influence on the way in which we serve our residents at Generations. With a renewed emphasis on utilizing relationships to help our residents build new competencies, our kids have been more successful in eliminating unsafe behaviors, thus paving the way to a brighter future and our goal of no more victims. Our focus is upon helping the residents meet expectations, with the belief that children will do well if they can. Resident surveys since the introduction of CARE clearly indicate that our kids feel safer and more respected by staff, two factors which are vitally important as they work towards overcoming the shame and trauma that has been so predominant in their lives. In a word, they are happier. And happy children become successful children. Thanks to CARE and Cornell University, the staff at Generations now has an evidence-based model that builds a foundation for changing lives.