Although a resident may remain in Whitmarsh care until the age of 21, if circumstances warrant, many residents exit the program prior to that time as a result of: reunification, independence, termination, absence from the program, or placement change. It is the goal of the Whitmarsh Program to positively conclude services for each resident as a result of having attained the treatment objectives outlined in the service plans.
Reunification with family may be an option open to a resident when that outcome is a favorable one for the family and the resident. Before reunification can take place all parties along with DCYF and the Family Court, must agree that circumstances warrant reunification as the best outcome to meet the needs of the individual in care. Reunification may extend to include other family members beyond the nuclear family unit.
A date is set for the resident to return home after having completed a transitional period of gradually extended visitation. Provided there are no problems or adjustment issues, reunification is accomplished and the residence is ended at Whitmarsh.
At the age of eighteen a resident who has demonstrated the ability to meet his needs in providing for food, shelter and sustained employment may be considered an independent individual no longer in need of services. As such, the individual is assumed to retain all of the rights, privileges and responsibilities given to one of majority status. A final decision regarding independence may rest with DCYF and the Family Court in some circumstances where the resident may not be able to function as an independent person.
The Whitmarsh Program has a strong commitment to the youth in care and does not move to terminate the placement of a resident for frivolous or unjust reasons. The procedure to terminate the placement begins only after all other options and considerations have been tried to bring the resident into compliance with program expectations.
A situation likely to result in termination may occur when a resident consistently or flagrantly disregards the rules and policies of the program. Also, in the case of a serious infraction where the health and safety of another may be in jeopardy, removal may be initiated immediately.
The procedure to terminate the placement is begun with a notice to the DCYF caseworker and the DCYF monitor from the Whitmarsh Program stating the circumstances leading to the decision for termination. A meeting is scheduled to discuss the termination. A specific period of time is given for the DCYF worker to find an alternative placement, after which the resident must be removed from the program.
The goal of this program is to provide services to youth recently discharged from a Whitmarsh site to help them return and remain in their home environment. The program provides structure, support and supervision to youth and their families. The aim is to expedite more positive discharges of residents and a lower recidivism rate.
Discharge from the after care program will occur once all parties involved (youth, family, Whitmarsh staff and DCYF caseworker) have determined that the youth and his family have met the criteria set. The anticipated length of involvement is three to six months.