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LaSalle, Albany participates in Australian RTC symposium

ALBANY – In November 2017, David Wallace, associate director for program planning at LaSalle Albany joined a team of fellow board members from the Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC) to present at a two-day symposium held in Sydney, Australia.
Patrick Gosselin, an ACRC board member and executive director of Australia’s Impact Youth Services (IYS) saw the need for a service that provided high quality support to Australian children and young people in the out-of-home-care sector, and arranged for the joint IYS / ACRC Symposium. Australia’s residential treatment center issues were addressed and U.S. examples of quality care were cited in an effort to help bring back the country’s residential system and determine its scale, capacity and quality. The IYS / ACRC Symposium was the result of close cooperation between two agencies whose underlying aim is to enhance the lives of young people in residential care.

The steps leading up to the system’s dismantling were outlined in an online article entitled ‘Broken Homes: On the frontline of Australia’s child protection crisis’ written for ABC News Digital by Linton Besser. In the story, Besser wrote that by the late 1990s, most major state-run institutions for wayward and neglected children had been closed around the country due to staff that were too few and poorly trained to care for the complex needs of children. By the time a judicial recommendation was made for third-party providers to assume many of the government’s child protection responsibilities, there was a shift in focus to foster care which was fortuitous for many of the children. Even so, the number of children in the care of the few remaining youth residential organizations reportedly doubled between 2005 and 2008.

Today, the system’s dismantling has proven to have some disastrous results.

Bringing together child welfare professionals from throughout Australia and around the globe, the event explored and examined topics such as the present state of residential care in Australia, the disparate rates of placement and the unique needs of Aboriginal youth, the impact of trauma on youth and families, child sex trafficking, and the responsible use of psychotropics in residential settings.   

The U.S. contingent included Mr. Wallace from LaSalle Albany, ACRC Executive Director Kari Sisson, Franki Reddick Gibson, chief clinical officer at Mingus Mountain Academy in Prescott, AZ and Christopher Bellonci, associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, and attending psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center. All serve on ACRC’s Board of Directors.
This exploration by national and international leaders to identify next steps is certain to include more collaboration with LaSalle and other ACRC affiliated agencies.
LaSalle Albany’s David Wallace presents. ACRC Executive Director Kari Sisson is at the podium. Wallace is LaSalle’s associate director for program planning.

The Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC) is an international membership organization that provides a powerful voice for residential interventions through relationships, leadership, advocacy, and the promotion of innovative treatment and best practices. Impact has been an active member of the ACRC since 2014, having attended its yearly conferences.

LaSalle School is a leader in programs and services for youth and families in crisis offering a variety of programs designed to meet their needs including specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services. The Counseling Center at LaSalle is an OMH and OASAS licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic located at LaSalle School, and currently implementing ACE treatment practices with youth and families. LaSalle is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), and affiliated with the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), and the national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. LaSalle is a member of The New York State Coalition of 853 Schools.
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