The forgotten path: adult stakeholder perceptions on the transition from residential treatment facility schools to neighborhood schools
Youth with emotional/behavioral disorders (E/BD) may be negatively impacted by their behavioral excesses and deficits across domains requiring more intensive supports and treatment than can be provided in a typical school. As a result, some of these youth will receive their supports and treatment from placement in a residential treatment facility (RTF) that provides around-the-clock services. Once a youth completes their treatment at the facility, they will integrate back into the community, including for some, enrollment in a neighborhood school. This transition from the RTF to the neighborhood school can be difficult due to the change in supports (e.g., small group to large group instruction, fewer treatment options related to mental health). Such a transition is an emerging pathway that was the focus of this qualitative inquiry. A focus group, interviews, and record reviews were conducted at an RTF serving students with E/BD in a Southeastern state. These RTF stakeholders shared their perspectives on the transition process from their facility to neighborhood schools. Using an intrinsic, instrumental, descriptive case study design, data were analyzed through the lens of sociocultural theory, a priori coding, and inductive analyses. The constructed themes (i.e., collaboration, communication, education, individualization, and involvement) align with the transition literature for best practices of different pathways. Limitations and future directions are provided within a lens of disruption as the novel coronavirus pandemic and facility access restrictions occurred during data collection limiting facility access to a single facility and limited time of contact with transition stakeholders.