Many DCRC supporters and users have probably not heard of Devereux’s Philosophy of Care. As one of the nation’s largest non-profit behavioral healthcare providers, Devereux provides a wide array of services throughout 11 of the 50 United States. The Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) serves to promote positive mental health, and prevent the development of behavioral health concerns that often land children and adults in the types of services that the large part of Devereux provides. Devereux’s Philosophy of Care was established to provide guiding principles which define systems and practices across all Devereux settings. These principles are intended to guide organizational and programmatic decision making. They serve as the foundation for the work of DCRC and all Devereux Centers.
In 1912, Helena Devereux, the young founder of the Devereux Foundation, once said “Every Child is a Program.” She treasured the differing strengths and needs of every child with the aim to ensure that each child in her care received the unique support that he or she needed. The Philosophy of Care emphasizes the importance of being client-centered and family-focused, while providing services that are adaptive, reflect the individual’s goals, and consider the individual in the context of home, school, work, community and culture.
The resources and approaches developed and promoted through DCRC place a strong emphasis on individualized approaches. We believe that every child is special and unique and deserves to be surrounded by adults who think the same. Our assessments support adults in reflecting upon and assessing the strengths of the individual child which leads to the development of individualized plans to support children’s social-emotional strengths and needs. We are family focused through promoting the resilience of caregivers and supporting collaboration between parents and professionals to encourage the development of a broader picture of the child and his or her behaviors in all settings. This allows for more comprehensive and consistent caregiving practices which support social and emotional development in the educational, afterschool, or home settings. Additionally, we strive to establish culturally sensitive approaches and resources to accommodate the unique values and belief systems of each child and family who encounters our work.
The Philosophy of Care also establishes the value of effective and accountable services for all of Devereux. This means that we use data to inform decisions about children’s lives, embrace evidence-based practices, and strive for continuous quality improvement. In addition to DCRC’s standardized, norm-referenced rating scales of children’s social-emotional strengths, which provide data to guide children’s development, DCRC strives to develop effective strategy guides and programs supported by research. All of our intervention resources are developed through initial literature reviews and feedback from users, and are followed-up with pilot studies and data collection whenever possible to provide additional evidence. DCRC has researchers on staff to ensure that our work is research supported, and to continue to help guide our programs towards continuous quality improvement.
The third and final principal of DCRC’s Philosophy of Care is Positive Approaches. Positive Approaches emphasizes relationship development, skill-building, and individual strengths. These elements are at the center of all DCRC resources and trainings. All of our work focuses on the significant relationship between a child and an adult caregiver. We also encourage relationship development between adults in a child’s life. These relationships are pivotal to recognizing and improving children’s skills, strengths and competencies. All of our interventions take a proactive or preventative approach, focusing on the universal promotion of social-emotional skills and resilience to promote positive mental health, and prevent behavioral and mental health concerns from arising. We aim to help children develop the coping skills they need to cope with risk and adversity that they encounter on their life’s journey.
While most of the staff at DCRC do not interact with the children and adults whose lives we work to change on an everyday basis like most Devereux Centers, DCRC embraces Devereux’s Philosophy of Care and upholds these principals in all that we do. We are proud to be a part of Devereux, and will continue to produce resources that emphasize Individualized and Effective and Accountable services grounded in Positive Approaches.
by Gabe Smith, Research Associate with DCRC