January 2008

Grant Results


Staff at Bonnie Brae, a residential treatment center for adolescent boys who have been neglected, abused or abandoned (located in Liberty Corner, N.J.), organized a conference of representatives from leading residential treatment providers to identify best practices for the treatment of emotionally disturbed and substance-abusing youth.

The meeting, titled "National Conference on Residential Center Treatment Outcomes," was held November 4–5, 2004 in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Key Results

  • Representatives from 17 institutions attended the meeting, including university researchers, residential treatment center providers and leaders of organizations concerned with the mental health and welfare of youth.
  • Researchers presented outcomes data on youth treated in residential treatment centers. Data came from two national data collection efforts, one state-wide endeavor, three university studies and 10 individual agency and treatment center data collection projects. All of the data sets were aggregated in order to:
    • Assess the "success" of residential treatment centers nationally.
    • Understand the status of data collection efforts in residential treatment centers.
    In all, approximately 12,262 children were represented in the aggregate data set.

Key Findings
Conference organizers reported findings from the meeting in a report: Outcomes—Why We Collect Them, What Do they Mean and Where Do We Go From Here: A Report of the Findings of the National Conference on Residential Treatment Outcomes.

  • Data collection is both varied and inconsistent among agencies and treatment centers nationally. The range lies from small-scattered data collection efforts to large national studies. Whether on the agency level or a national level, there is most often a large amount of data that is either missing or unavailable.
  • Treatment "success" rates vary across the spectrum of data sources:
    • National data sets indicated an overall success rate of 76 percent.
    • State studies reported an overall success rate of 53 percent, with success rates ranging from 41 percent to 63 percent depending on the state study.
    • Local agencies and treatment centers reported an overall success rate of 71 percent, with success rates ranging from 35 percent to 97 percent at individual agencies.
  • Differing treatment success rates can be explained in part, by the differing definitions of "success" used.
    • In the national and state data sets, "success is defined as discharge to a lesser restrictive environment."
    • Many local agency and treatment center studies use the same definition of success as the national and state data sets. Others define success as discharge to the same or lesser restrictive environment.

Key Conclusions

  • The disparate nature of the data collected causes problems in the analyses across all agencies.
  • Common definitions of success would be helpful to more fully identify and compare success rates.
  • A short list of common variables should be identified, collected and tracked across all agencies and treatment centers so that benchmarks can be determined and improvements can be based on reliable and valid data.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $55,875 from April 2004 to June 2005 to support this project.

After the Grant
Project Director Cynthia Papa-Lentini, Ph.D., presented findings from the meeting at a September 2005 meeting, titled "Tools and Practices to Transform Children's Mental Health Services," held in Portland, Ore.

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National Conference on Expanding and Improving Substance Abuse Treatment for Children in Residential Care


Bonnie Brae (Liberty Corner,  NJ)

  • Amount: $ 55,875
    Dates: April 2004 to June 2005
    ID#:  050581


Cynthia Papa-Lentini, Ph.D.
(908) 647-0800

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Report prepared by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Marco Navarro

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