Residential Schools: A Promising Alternative to Foster and Group Homes

In her book, Garbage Bag Suitcase, former foster youth Shenandoah Chefalo describes her childhood of abuse, followed by three years in foster care with a family that was more stable, but no more caring or

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Marie K. Cohen
About Marie K. Cohen 68 Articles
Marie K. Cohen (MPA, MSW) is a child advocate, researcher, and policy analyst. She worked as social worker in the District of Columbia's child welfare system for five years. She is a member of the Citizen's Review Committee for the DC Child and Family Services Agency and the DC Child Fatality Review Commission and a mentor to a foster youth. Follow her blog at, on Facebook at Fostering Reform or on Twitter@fosteringreform.


  1. Marie, I am curious if you think the ‘anti-orphanage’ bias is forcing foster home placement as the only ‘resource for kids to be removed from homes’ ??

    I am a retired pediatrician and have some experience with children and families.

    This question I think relates to school biases regarding — should kids with behavior problems/ learning issues be placed ONLY in the regular classrooms or would alternative separate ‘catchup classrooms’ be a better choice. I have heard many students in ‘alternative programs’ struggle emotionally in the regular classroom and thrive much better in class of ‘peers’ (other kids with similar struggles). When confident many will go back to regular classrooms.

    Some ‘very rich families’ send their kids to ‘rich kid boarding schools’ and to me these are not different than ‘group homes or residential programs for groups of kids’. The success really depends on the management and oversight of the schools/ homes etc. Attentive ‘public oversight advocates’ should be able to prevent mismanagement.

    your thoughts. If good enough for rich kids why not for abused kids????

    thanks for your thoughts

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