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Book Reviews

Below are some of the books that I have read relating to residential childcare, juvenile justice, and houseparenting.  I have placed them roughly in the order that I think would be most beneficial for a direct care residential childcare worker to read.  You may disagree with me, and that's OK.  This is my list.  If you would like to read the full review for each book click on the title.


  • Family-Centered Services in Residential Treatment: New Approaches for Group Care -- By: John Y. Powell (Editor)
    Family-Centered Services in Residential Treatment is a collection of articles, speeches, and interviews.  The editor uses these to present the concept , philosophy and need of family centered services from different perspectives to include clinicians, administrators, direct care staff, parents and children formerly in placement.
    I very much enjoyed this book and the editor did a very good job further selling me on family centered services...............

  • Getting Started as a Residential Child Care Worker? (A Guide For Beginners) -- By: Jesse E. Crone
    Let me start by saying that this book was given to me 7 years ago by an administrator as the entire training program at a facility I worked at.  I finally finished reading it yesterday.  It is an ok basic book and very briefly covers most aspects of residential child care.  It was written in 1984 and appears to be directed at shifter workers in a treatment center type setting.........

  • Kids Who Outwit Adults-- By: John R. Seita/Larry K. Brendtro
    "Kids Who Outwit Adults" is my official introduction to "Positive Youth Development" the jist of which is rather than trying to control children and change their behavior you work to build a relationship with them and enlist their expertise about themselves to develop strategies for positive change.  It also focuses on recognizing the strengths of the child and building upon that, rather than looking at the negative behaviors and trying to change them..............

  • No Matter How Loud I Shout - (A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF JUVENILE COURT) -- By: Edward Humes
    A year in the life of juvenile court in Los Angeles County, California the year 1994 will trigger many emotions in you when you read it. It will make you angry when you see the shortcomings of the Juvenile justice system.  It will make you want to cheer for the youth that might make it.  It will surely depress you when realize there is little that can be done to change many of the youth in the system.  But, hopefully it will mostly make you want to make a difference if you are a part of the system.............

  • No Such Thing As a Bad Kid!: Understanding and Responding to the Challenging Behavior of Troubled Children and Youth -- By: Charles D. Appelstein
    This is my new #1 recommended book for houseparents and other residential childcare staff.  This book will help you be a better caregiver after the very first chapter.  It will give you a much better understanding of challenging behavior and the cause.  It will teach you skills to prevent challenging behavior as well as interventions to help you respond to challenging behavior..............

  • Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care  -- By: Jennifer Toth
    I am still trying to figure out what the point of the book is.  I am not sure if the author is trying to point out the flaws of the Foster Care System in the US, to point out the struggles that children in the Foster Care System face, or to simply document the lives of the 5 children and families she profiled in her book..............

  • PAIN, NORMALITY and the STRUGGLE for CONGRUENCE -- By: James P. Anglin
    If you are an administrator at a facility or looking to open a new facility this would be an excellent book to read.  It is basically a summary of a 14 month study the author did of well functioning and not so well functioning group homes in British Columbia, Canada.  Though you may consider texts from outside the US irrelevant to our system, you will be very surprised at how similar the conditions, philosophies, practices are to our system in the US.......

  • Promoting Healthy Childhood Development TODAY-- By: James R. Harris, Jr., Ph.D.
    This is Dr. Harris' (The author of Respecting Residential Work with Children, one of my favorite books) second book.  It is basically a summary of childhood development. It is a short book that doesn't cover any particular area in detail, but does a pretty good job of providing useful hints and tips in several areas of development................

  • raising cain - Caring for Troubled Youngsters/Repairing our Troubled System -- By: Richard J. Delaney
    The primary audience of "raising cain" is foster and adoptive parents though the author dedicates the book "To all helping professionals whose labor of love includes troubled foster and adopted children" and most of the behaviors and many of the issues can relate directly to residential care.  Cain is the person in the Bible that killed his brother Abel and the author describes him as the "first emotionally disturbed child"  He uses Cain as a metaphor for for troubled foster children, I think, because of their behavior they are sometimes forced to wander through the foster care system in the same way that Cain was forced to wander the earth as a marked individual for his behavior.............

  • Raising Other People's Kids: A Guide for Houseparents, Foster Parents, and Direct Care Staff-- By: M. C. Camerer, Ed.D. & Emerson Capps, Ed.D.
    This is one of the few modern books written specifically for houseparents and other residential care staff.  Many of the illustrations in the book are from the authors experience as a houseparent with the remainder from her experience as a teacher/Professor.  That is one of the highlights of the book.
    To me the best part of the book was the second to last chapter titled "Advice from Houseparents" ............

  • Respecting Residential Work with Children -By: James R. Harris Jr., M.A.
    If you are thinking of getting into or are already working in residential childcare and can only read one book it should be this one.  I would recommend it for direct care staff, supervisors, clinicians and administrators..........

  • Screwing the System and Making it Work: Juvenile Justice in the No-Fault Society  -- By: Mark D. Jacobs
    This would be a good book for Probation Officers and maybe Social Workers/Administrators to read.  You will notice I did not say houseparents and other residential childcare workers, it just really doesn't apply to the direct care work that you do with the children.............

  • The Gus Chronicles - Reflections from an Abused Kid --By: Charles D. Appelstein, M.S.W. (and Gus E. Studelmeyer) NO LONGER IN PUBLICATION
    The Gus Chronicles is a fictional story about a kid, Gus E. Studelmeyer, that is living in a residential treatment center(RTC). The author uses a fictional person to address realistic situations in an RTC, and for the most part does a very good job..........

  • The Gus Chronicles I - Reflections from an Abused Kid --By: Charles D. Appelstein, M.S.W. (and Gus E. Studelmeyer)
    The Gus Chronicles 1 is an updated and revised version of The Gus Chronicles (originally published in 1994).  Doing something over will almost always result in something better, and it is certainly true in this case.  I enjoyed this book much more than I did the original......

  • The Gus Chronicles II - Reflections from a Kid Who Has Been Abused--By: Charles D. Appelstein, M.S.W. (and Gus E. Studelmeyer)
    The Gus Chronicles II is a continuation of Gus E. Studelmeyer's stay at a residential treatment center(RTC).  Gus E. Studelmeyer is a fictional character that is living in a residential treatment center(RTC). The author uses a fictional person to address realistic situations in an RTC, and for the most part does a very good job.......

  • The Residential Youth Care Worker in Action - A Collaborative, Competency-Based Approach -- By: Bob Bertolino, PhD & Kevin Thompson, MEd
    I believe the main point of this book is to get Residential Youth Care Workers (RYCW) to move from the traditional "Deficit-based" (What is wrong with the child) approach when dealing with the youth in their care to a more "Collaborative, Competency-based" (What is right with the child) approach...........

  • They Cage The Animals At Night: The true story of an abandoned child's struggle for emotional survival -- By: Jennings Michael Burch
    I can honestly tell you that this book was life changing for me.  I have been a houseparent for over ten years and before I read this book, I was seriously looking for the exit sign.  I was tired; I was frustrated and I was thinking there had to be an easier way to make a living. By the time I was halfway through the book, I didn't want to put it down and realized there was no other thing I could possibly see myself doing besides caring for the children I care for.............

  • What Do You Do With A Child Like This?:  Inside the Lives of Troubled Children  -- By: L. Tobin
    This book was not what I expected it to be.  I was expecting 200 pages of in depth resources for working with troubled youth.  What it turned out to be was about 60 pages of small tidbits of information spaced out over 200 pages.  The title page of the book describes it as "a notebook of thoughts, anecdotes and specialized techniques for teachers, counselors, psychologists, day care workers, and parents who find themselves in the adventure of working with children, especially troubled children."  It lists teachers first for good cause I believe, because it is about 90% directed at teachers.  Houseparents can glean some useful information from it.............

Other Products

  • Product Review - Vstreet.com- While looking through my SocialLearning.com catalog I came across a listing for an online service they provide called Vstreet.com. It is advertised as a web site for life skills training. It is certainly that (It has several full length curriculums as well as many stories and short animations that teach life skills...........

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