The Attachment Milieu
The Milieu at the Villa is seen as one of the most powerful agents of change for the child. This is not to minimize the contributions of other aspects of residential life, formal therapy and education, but to emphasize the importance of the intense primary care relationship in the child’s emotional development.
The children's daily living environment, or milieu, is structured to facilitate close and meaningful relationship building. Our staff is trained extensively in the Attachment Model.
In order to promote continuity in the children's daily living, the staff schedules are divided into two three and four day shifts. Each side of the week is staffed with milieu counselors both male and female. Our student to adult ratio remains at about 1 to 3.
This staffing pattern has many benefits. For example, the person who puts the child to bed is also there to wake him up to provide support at a time when most children feel quite vulnerable. When challenging behaviors and emotions arise, the child can trust that the caregiver is not going to leave in a few minutes because her shift is over. Relationships are built on sharing the difficult as well as the fun times which rarely fit into an hourly schedule.
Our daily schedule is designed to allow the children in our care a predictable flow of activities as well as flexibility so that the staff can arrange or rearrange the schedule based on individual needs.
Transition Groups - All of the children and house staff meet every day for planned Morning and Evening Transition Groups. During groups, the staff set expectations and refocus the children's attention before moving on to a new activity. The transition group is a key element in everyday life in the milieu as it helps the children stay focused on his or her own needs as they move through their day. It is also an opportunity for the staff to control and assess the rhythm of the group so that it can be assured that each child's emotional and physical needs are being met. Groups are also held throughout the day according to the needs of the children and the rhythm of the group.
The children's daily schedule includes three meals with snacks in between, school, study time, recreation time, clean up, time for reading with staff or writing letters, individual, group, and family therapy.