Have group homes been helpful for any of you?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ehlena, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Hey, I’m back. I’m the stepmother whose stepson falsely accused my husband of abuse (multiple times), until he came up with a real doozy, the police arrested my husband and my stepson got taken away by CPS. He did this all as part of a self-confessed “plan” with his mother since he wanted to go live with her.

    Currently, a year later, we’ve taken care of the charges against my husband, and difficult child has been through three different foster homes. CPS has been very slow in addressing all of difficult child’s issues, but I think we are all finally on the same page. At this point, difficult child is not being returned home because he doesn’t want to be returned home, and they are afraid of how much more he would act up were he to be placed back in our house. And honestly, the thought makes me more than just a little anxious. He has a history of destructive and aggressive behavior in our house.

    This last foster home has been very lax about rules, and difficult child has just taken that and run with it. He just turned thirteen. He’s been skipping classes, Fs across the board, committed sexual battery on a girl at school, attacked same girl and attacked another boy, drinking, and smoking marijuana. It’s a mess. The foster parents wanted to keep him and see if they could help, but the foster family agency finally put their foot down – they don’t want to accept liability anymore. He’s been showing up under the influence to his visits with his mother.

    Don’t get me started on his mother. On-off addict (latest relapse in August), narcissistic personality disorder, and brainwashing difficult child to believe that the only way he will be happy is if he lives with her. Currently she is facing felony child endangerment charges in regards to her youngest. She had custody of difficult child when he was very young, lost it, regained it, and subsequently abandoned him. My husband’s joint counseling with him has been next to useless. difficult child says he loves us, enjoys visiting with us, but doesn’t like our rules. Repetitive “I should be with my mom” “I just want to go live with my mom”, etc. without being able to articulate why.

    He’s had an extensive psychiatric evaluation (ADHD, disruptive behavior disorder, avoidant attachment style, and a couple things I can’t remember) and just went today to the psychiatrist to see about possibly adjusting his medications, mostly for his ADHD.

    They are moving him to a group home in, at most, six more days. Has this helped anyone else with their difficult child? Our difficult child has always been a difficult child, but a couple years back we were doing pretty well. He was in honors English, testing high on aptitude, on a regular behavioral plan, sweet and helpful. This is the kid that, on my birthday, without any prompting, got up early and made me breakfast. Lately he’s been coming over on weekends completely flat – under the influence of something or hung over. It breaks my heart to see where we’re at right now.

    I am thankful that he will be in a place with more supervision and that I won’t have to be worried about his safety as much (foster dad would let him go off to his “friend’s place”, riding his bicycle with-o helmet and while intoxicated, returning after dark. It was driving me crazy! I’ve been tense and worried every single day.). The social worker has worked in group homes, and is looking to find one that is a good fit for him.

    Anyone else had experience with this sort of thing?
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Have you looked into Residential Treatment Center (RTC)? It sounds like he could benefit from full 24-hour supervision and therapeutic interventions. My daughter (Kanga) has been at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for 2.5 years, her current plan is another 6-8 months in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and then 18-24 months in a group home and then into a supported apartment. While we haven't been able to bring her home due to her Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and its associated violence with us, she has learned a number of skills that will help her as an adult and hopefully keep society a bit safer from her.
  3. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    What's the difference between Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and a group home? The social worker mentioned he would be under 24/7 supervision and would have therapeutic interventions on-site. She also mentioned substance abuse intervention. I know there was a group home in the area that the social worker was not considering, because it had less structure and supervision.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    There may not be much difference depending on where you live. In my state, an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) has 24/7 supervision of the clients, provides milieu therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, recreation therapy, etc; a quite room for isolation as needed, and medical staff on site 24/7 including the daily (but not 24/7) presence of an psychiatrist. A group home doesn't have the quiet room, the high level of medical staff and may or may not have 24/7 supervision. Technically, the last Residential Treatment Center (RTC) Kanga was at was licensed as a group home due to the lack of the quiet room and 24/7 medical staff but was run like an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with 24/7 supervision and staffing levels.

    If the group home that he will be at has 24/7 supervision, that is very good. As you know, false allegations can destroy you. That is a huge issue with Kanga as well. Did the change in your difficult child come with puberty? or could something have happened at biomoms? sometimes the genetic issues and an environmental trigger shove these kids over the edge (Kanga comes from two mentally ill birthparents and was neglected/abused from birth to age 5.)

    So, to answer your original question, yes, it has been helpful -- primarily in keeping the rest of us safe from Kanga; at a smaller level, it has helped her learn some skills for her adult life.
  5. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    difficult child has definitely suffered from his time with his mom. She took meth while she was pregnant and breastfeeding, and he was subject to neglect/abuse. When he was taken away he was dirty, underweight, wearing inappropriate (adult) clothes, and speech delayed.

    She hadn't really been a regular part of his life until after my husband filed for child support - and then she started calling regularly, exercising visitation rights...things went downhill from there. difficult child's teachers say they can pinpoint the exact day that difficult child decided that he no longer wanted to live with us. He idolizes his mother to an extremely unhealthy point. I've noticed that any time she makes a request of him, no matter how strange or unreasonable, he has this almost panicked, very intense reaction. He won't respond to reasoning. He constantly makes excuses for her behavior. It's maddening.

    His mom has been court-ordered to have another psychiatric evaluation.

    I'm not sure what group home difficult child will be taken to yet, the social worker told us she will let us know as soon as she does - and I'll look into those things you mentioned.

    If difficult child comes back to live with us at some point, we will be installing 24/7 security cameras in the common areas of the house, to protect ourselves from any further allegations.

    But I think I'm going to put off thinking about the future for as long as possible. difficult child is doing some rapid decompensation in foster care right now...I'm hoping he doesn't get himself into serious trouble for the next several days.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As JJJ says, there are group homes and then there are group homes. My son has been in many. Some are no more than storage facilities and then there are some that really do work wonders. 24/7 supervision is a must. I would want to visit the place myself to feel confident.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This child probably has organic brain damage from meth and alcohol. We have a child who tested positive for drugs at birth...we adopted him. He's on the autism spectrum with many life skill issues, but he's not a behavior problem.

    Organic brain damage/Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/alcohol and drug affects mimic other things and are very hard to diagnose. If she drank at all, and bet she didn't abstain, alcohol can cause permanent damage. It often does. It's not reversible and you don't have to drink a lot to cause that damage. Meth...I can only imagine.

    in my opinion you have a child who was damaged before he was born, then was thrown around a lot in his early, important attachment years. I don't want to say he's hopeless at his age, but we did adopt an 11 year old (who left at 13) who will never be ok due to his birthmother's early drug use and his lack of attachment...he was a young psychopath. I'd say SS is probably too if he has already sexually assaulted somebody. So did our ex-son (yes, we told CPS to take him when we found out he'd abused our two youngest).

    I wish you luck. In all honesty, I don't know if this one can be helped much. Make sure you and hub are safe from both is violence and his allegation. And I really am not sure he can reason well enough to help what he does. Sad. Take care.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    Hi. Your life sounds not so dissimilar to ours - a little moving around of the players. My ex is the manipulative drug addict, and my fiance is now the step-dad who went to the ends of the earth for my son, now age 20. Since my son was age 5, he's been in and out of state psychiatriac hopsitals, privitate psychiatric. hospitals, group homes, foster care, residential treatment facilities - and while each may have had it's merit (although looking back I see very little) - the thing that helped us most? In all honesty was family counseling. Why?

    Well, no matter WHAT any group home, residential placement or foster care (sorry for those here because you are the exception) said to us? It all boiled down to money and that allmighty check. We had a caseworker - the caseworker had a boss, that boss had a boss, and when it was all said and done? They had statistics and certain figures had to be met to keep getting grants from the government. The foster parents and the last group home we had were the worst. OMW you can't imagine the H we went through. My son was incarcerated twice under 'their watchful eye' and nothing could be done about it. One group home didn't have a toilet - and the boys were not going to school, didn't have food. But by the time you get to our level of lying? You don't believe these kids - so we left it go under "UH HUH- tough love" then drove there unannounced -which was FORBIDDEN....and found out - it wasn't a lie. Didn't matter - we took pictures, had the place shut down, and they were open a week later under a new name. The boys even told us that went there a month later they believed the man that ran the place had a 'honey' that was a crack ***** he kept in a camper back on the property - and all of a sudden the mans wife died from an accidental overdose of diabetic medicine. UNREAL - he was also busted in a scam to steal city manhole covers - but got out of it. Outrageous as it sounds - from there they sent myson to live with a foster family that was stealing cars. I mean this just goes on and on. When we suspected the car theft was going on - GUESS who became incorrigible? So incorrigible that he had less than 3 days to get out? Or be homeless. Yup -

    So my thought is this - and hearing about your son and his Mother's behavior and his ability to run? He needs LOCKED UP. he needs in a place where he CAN NOT get out - on his own volition. Group home is NOT going to do that. At 13 he will be able to come and go as he pleases - and if they tell you different? BULL. They will probably have staff there during the day and one person at night. If you dont' think a house full of boys like ours can't run a scam on a night staff person? Yeah. And it may be that there will be two - and the windows will be shut - or whatever. Then you'll have to find out- If he DOES run? Then what? Is he going to be ARRESTED and CHARGED ? If so - does he got to Department of Juvenile Justice? If he goes to Department of Juvenile Justice WHAT HELP DOES HE GET THEN?

    See these are questions that they DO NOT want you to ask NOW - Because - if you do - then you may not put your son there - and THEY don't get money - but they'll act like they have 1000 kids WAITING for that bed. Couldn't care less if your son gets it or Joe next guy gets it. And if you don't take it - where does he go? Home? OH H noooo. I mean they know how to play this game - you don't. You don't have money - you don't know what your options are. FIND OUT. Come here - ask...find out what's available in your state - in the next state =======what does the state pay for if you make him a ward of the state. Does he have Medicaid? Does he qualify for a Katie Beckett Waiver? Is there a program in your state to ASSIST with funding for the most severe cases like his? Here in SC there is a Governors Continuum - there are parent organizations - there is The Disability and Disabled Special Needs Board. DDSN - For Disabled people - There are a lot of organizations that you can call to ask for help - parent organizations that are there for you some with atty help. But none - if you don't know they are there - and none if you don't call for help.

    My thought from what you have told me - and your son's anger level and manipulation from his mother? I think he would do very well in a locked psychiatric facility. One where he would go to school every day, have one on one daily with a counselor that he would get to know very well for a long time. See a psychiatist at least once a week where he would build a relationship and be able to talk about his past and his dysfunctional relationship with his Mom, and begin changing the maping in his brain. 13 is late to start - but not TOO late. He also needs to know things like - anger management and that it's okay to be angry - but here's how to express it. WHY he's angry. He didn't just get this way over night. He probably has organic issues like MWM said, I agree whole heartedly that is something that an MRI, or PET scan may reveal - and should be looked into with a Neurologist. It could help your doctors know which way to go - But he really needs one on one therapy.

    IN THE MEAN TIME? YOu and husband need to be in family therapy - because........THIS HAS, IS and WILL take it's toll. It already has, it IS currently and it WILL continue to take it's toll - and you need a professional person to sit with, talk to, bounce ideas, and the daily grind of having a child like this in your life - and when you are NOT used to having a manipulative soul like him in your world? HOW do you ever compete or relate or rise above it? YOU TALK to a professional that gives you help, guidelines and the one-up to level the playing field and the ability to stay one step ahead, then two - and eventually the where withall to see things coming down the pike with these kids - and by the time he's 21 - if you start NOW with him at 13? You and husband will be able to withstand him and his BS - and not fall apart as a couple. You will be united. Without help? This kid will put a strain on your marriage that few survive. He knows it - and he's counting on it and he has NOTHING but time to achieve it. Despite how much he's telling you you're the best step mom and makes you breakfast - he wants Mom and Dad together - count on it. No matter what he's saying. been there done that and until he gets some maturity and counseling and understanding under his brain - and in his head ? You have a very dangerous person in your family that is going to do, and use every trick in his (and probably his Moms) bag to make you think he's your best buddy - and then turn on you both like a rattlesnake.

    So by now you're thinking - does this ever stop? Well.....it gets manageable. I won't say stop - because our son is 20 and I think he still is who he is - but a lot of the things he did that your son is doing at 13? He isn't doing any more. I still say that most of our sons are about 3 years behind in age emotionally. At 20? I think my son is around 17. At 13 - yours is behaving around 10. The attitude, the thought processes.....probably more like 10 year olds than 13. Maybe even gets along better with younger kids than older - but LIKES older kids. That's how it was for us anyway. Hung out with kids way younger but when the older kids would see him with them - didn't want anything to do with them - just weird.

    Now at 20 he's hanging with guys his own age...but he's also been through about 15 years of counseling - so we hope /pray something sunk in. And he'll tell you or anyone else too - the place that scared him straight - that locked psychiatric. hospital. He said out of all the places he went? THAT place - told him we meant business. And it wasn't business - we just wanted him well - But there? No way out, no planning an escape - monitored 24/7 - on camera - he said it was so much like jail - we ended up pulling him out AMA due to a staff issue - and it wasn't a great fantastic place - but that was the place also that I realized that no matter where I put him - there really was no honeymoon when he came home he was who he was too. I stopped expecting places to fix him. Pills didn't work - places didn't work - Therapy with family and detachment, effective communication - how we learned to talk to each other and listen - that worked. That and time......and distance and tough love.

    I hope something in this long poorly spelled Mother's heart speaks to you - because I'm not hopeless for your son - or his situation. I'm not jaded by the system either. Some places are wonderful and they do work - bottom line is - YOUR SON - has to WANT to change, and no matter how fantastic this place is? If he's not wanting to change, if he's not SICK to death of himself and his behavior - no place is going to work.

    Sad to say - but true. So use this time wisely - and change yourself, your husband and your attitudes to what you will tolerate and get strong.

  9. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Just wanted to revisit this, because they finally placed my difficult child in a level 12 group home, on Tuesday. They are also taking him regularly to the psychiatrist. It’s about time! I’m still frustrated because they still won’t test difficult child to find out what/how much is in his system. I know it’s at least alcohol and marijuana. We are working on that. He’s been at the prior place long enough (no structure, rules, boundaries) that he has formed an addiction.

    We dropped by and spoke to the director. The guy is awesome. I could have hugged him! He’s well aware of everything that is going on in his house, and already knows that difficult child is planning on sneaking out to get high. Apparently, the other boys have told him that difficult child is “hurting” right now. They have 24/7 staff, difficult child has to inform someone when he is going upstairs, what for, can’t go up there for too long alone, and they are checking on him during the night to make sure he is still there.

    There are only three other boys in the house, and the director really seems to care about them and their futures. They’re on levels for the amount of privileges they can have, depending on completion of chores and responsibilities. The director really wants to get difficult child into weekly AA meetings with one of the other kids in the house – but the sticking point is that they test at these meetings. He’s also telling the social worker to work on getting the permission for drug testing, so it’s nice that we’re not the only ones putting pressure on her to get it done. It’s been almost a month since the social worker said this was a priority for her.

    So far difficult child seems to like it there, but he’s also on break right now, and the director is doing a good job of enticing him with rewards he can earn. I think a big sticking point will be the heightened supervision over his interactions with his mother. His mom has had a hugely detrimental effect on him, and the director let us know that not only would they be watching his visits very closely, but would be monitoring phone calls – anything inappropriate gets said, the phone gets hung up. This is how difficult child got himself kicked out of the second foster home. The foster mom hung up the phone and he got aggressive. Nothing and no one is allowed to come between him and his mom.

    It’s a five-minute drive from our place, and the director told us that we can drop by anytime or call anytime. It’s clean, spacious, in a nice neighborhood, and the other boys there seem happy. We’ll be picking difficult child up for Xmas this weekend.

    We've been doing family therapy for a long time, and difficult child has also been doing individual therapy for a long time. When difficult child first moved in with us it took me about six months to convince my husband that his behaviors were unusual and he should be put in counseling. We've been doing the books, therapy, and advice from anyone who has new ideas since. Medication was a little slower coming, since we were both resistant to that. They are re-evaluating his medications right now.

    I don’t know how much or how quickly this will help difficult child, but I am really glad that he’s in a place where they aren’t sticking their heads in the sand over his substance abuse issues, that he is being supervised closely, and they have set boundaries and expectations. HUGE weight off my shoulders! Crossing my fingers that this lasts – he’s been placing himself out of the foster homes at the 5-6 month mark.

    I'm starting to form a lightbulb thought over how much of this is related to his mother. I do think difficult child has organic issues and will always be a difficult child to raise. I also noticed, however, that he is happy/excited about any new placement he's put into, and then he gradually starts to complain about really petty things. He doesn't do it so much with my husband and I, because we constantly work to re-frame these complaints and foster an attitude of gratitude. But with his mom, this is almost all they talk about. And she encourages this and pushes him further, i.e. "they shouldn't be making you do extra reading, that's horrible!" She doesn't correct him when difficult child talks about killing his caretakers or calling them racial slurs. And then difficult child starts to make things up to complain about... and then he's lashing out verbally with things that obviously came from his mother's mouth. And then physically.

    difficult child was happy at our place for a long time, almost a year and a half. Things only started to really deteriorate when his mom started to come back into his life. I wonder what's going to happen when they really limit and supervise her contact.