64 Teaching – Families for Troubled Kids

Based on Research by Drs. Montrose Wolf, Elaine Phillips, Elery Phillips, and Dean Fixsen. Psychology Science Minute written by American Psychological Association, adapted by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D.

In the late 1960’s, Psychologist Montrose Wolf and colleagues developed an empirically tested treatment program to help troubled children and juvenile offenders who had been assigned to residential group homes. These researchers combined the successful components of behavioral principles into the Teaching-Family Model, which offers a structured family-like environment. A married couple (called teaching-parents) rated warm and caring by children lives with children in a group home and teaches them essential interpersonal and living skills.

Teaching-parents also work with the children’s parents, teachers, employers, and peers to ensure support for the children’s positive changes. Compared to children in other residential treatment programs, children in Teaching-Family Model centers had fewer contacts with police and courts, lower dropout rates, and improved school grades and attendance during treatment.

The Teaching-Family Model currently is being used in schools, treatment facilities, and group homes for emotionally disturbed adolescents. The method shows the power of good parenting that includes love and kindness, setting rules, and teaching   effective interpersonal skills. As a result, children and teens learn how to get along with others and work to maximize their success. Parents, be aware of what you are teaching your children — through your words and, even more so, through your actions.


For more details see:


American Psychological Association, December 15, 2003

Cited Research

Bernfeld, Gary A. (2001). Chapter 8. The Struggle for Treatment Integrity in a “Dis-integrated” Service Delivery System, p 167-188.  In Gary A. Bernfeld, David P. Farrington, Alan W. Leschied, Eds. (2001). Offender Rehabilitation in Practice: Implementing and Evaluating Effective Programs. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, LTD.

Fixsen, D. L. & Blase, K. A. (1993). Creating new realities: Program development and dissemination. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Vol. 26, pp. 597-615.

Fixsen, D. L., Blase, K. A., Timbers, G. D., & Wolf, M. M. (2001). In search of program implementation: 792 replications of the Teaching-Family Model. In G. A. Bernfeld, D. P. Farrington, & A. W. Leschied (Eds.), Offender rehabilitation in practice: Implementing and evaluating effective programs (pp. 149-166). London: Wiley.

Larzelere, R. E., Daly, D. L., Davis, J. L., Chmelka, M. B., Handwerk, M. L.(2004). Outcome Evaluation of Girls and Boys Town’s Family Home Program. Education & Treatment of Children, Vol 27(2), 130-149.

Show More
Back to top button