Thesis

Making it work : a qualitative exploration of life in a group home

A group home is a home for children who have experienced various types of abuse and/or neglect by a parent/guardian and are for some reason unable to be maintained in typical foster care placements. Group home life is complex and vastly understudied. This qualitative study interviewed six female residents and four staff at a local group home to investigate the informal structures, social orders and overall perception of group home life. Multiple parallels were found between the experiences of the group home residents and those of prison inmates, reinforcing that group homes operate in many ways as “total institutions” and residents are often learning unhealthy behaviors from their peers. Recommendations for a more effective group home program arose from the research and are centered on making the group home environment feel more like “real life.” Residents need a sense of family, support, caring, and trust which is difficult to create with staff members who by necessity must enforce professional boundaries. Some possible steps to address this seeming dilemma are proposed.

Thesis (M.A., Sociology) -- California State University, Sacramento, 2011.

A group home is a home for children who have experienced various types of abuse and/or neglect by a parent/guardian and are for some reason unable to be maintained in typical foster care placements. Group home life is complex and vastly understudied. This qualitative study interviewed six female residents and four staff at a local group home to investigate the informal structures, social orders and overall perception of group home life. Multiple parallels were found between the experiences of the group home residents and those of prison inmates, reinforcing that group homes operate in many ways as “total institutions” and residents are often learning unhealthy behaviors from their peers. Recommendations for a more effective group home program arose from the research and are centered on making the group home environment feel more like “real life.” Residents need a sense of family, support, caring, and trust which is difficult to create with staff members who by necessity must enforce professional boundaries. Some possible steps to address this seeming dilemma are proposed.

Relationships

Items