Considering Residential Placement?
Simply asking this question is understandably highly emotional and heart-wrenching. We acknowledge that this goes against the grain of what we have in our minds as “good parents.” No one dreams about sending their child away to be cared for by strangers. Parents may ask themselves, “Am I a bad parent for even thinking about this? Does this mean I’m giving up?” While it is important for families to exhaust all available options and avoid an out-of-home placement if possible, it is not a sign of weakness or parental inadequacy to consider this alternative.
It is difficult for others who have not been through this process or are not witnessing directly the day-to-day struggles to comprehend why a child would need residential placement. It is rare to have a child with a unique combination of severe limitations in their functioning and some degree of aggression toward themselves and/or others. Most people cannot even begin to imagine the kinds of extreme or unusual behaviors that families see every day. If someone has never known or seen a child smash their head through a window, repeatedly scratch themselves until they bleed, or engage in other bizarre behaviors, it might be difficult to understand why a child would need supervised professional care 24-hours/day.
It is important for parents to know that it takes courage to contemplate this possibility. This means that parents believe their child deserves a chance at fulfilling their potential. For parents who are just beginning to contemplate the possibility of residential placement, it may be of some comfort to hear from parents who have gone through this (link to parents’ stories section). Parents as early as one month into their child’s residential placement have been pleasantly surprised at how happy their child was in their new environment and how much growth occurred in a relatively short period of time. Some parents regretted not making the decision sooner, stating that this was the best decision they could have made for their child’s well-being.