Creative paths for “system-breaking” children and young people

/ Jan H. Andersen,

Berlin – Experts in the field talk about “high-risk clientele”, although the term “system crash” has meanwhile gained a glorious fame through the 2019 feature film of the same name.

“Children and young people do not break the system, the system has no suitable offer for them,” explained Jesko Fuhrken, educational director of Caritas education aid Bremen, at a technical discussion of the German Society for Social Psychiatry (DGSP) yesterday. . “Children and young people in the system: Blast, test – lock in !? – How do we handle challenging players? «Was the title of the digital interview.

Children and adolescents from difficult families of origin with “several problem situations, long carrier biographies, constantly experienced fractures and repeated psychiatric stays” are considered, according to Fuhrken, a high-risk client. “Some children have up to 40 different placements behind them when they are 14 years old.” From the age of 10, the “downward spiral” began for most of them.

The educator emphasized that these children and young people are a challenge for breadwinners and politicians, who nevertheless have to create a place for them in the system again to take into account their right to education. “To this end, new creative ways must be created that meet the individual needs of young people.”

The experts at DGSP agreed that enclosed housing in special homes for the affected children was not the right way. “Enclosed spaces with a tight set of rules are not the right way for most of the children and are not very successful,” said child and adolescent psychiatrist Charlotte Köttgen, for example. From 1984 to 2003, she headed the youth psychological and psychiatric service in Hamburg.

Five intensive educator places – 14.5 full-time positions

The intensive pedagogical housing group Port Nord in Bremen, which was presented as a positive example in the technical discussion, is taking creative paths. At Port Nord, a multi-professional team of social workers, educators, psychologists, therapists and house assistants work in a low-threshold, open environment with children and young people between the ages of eight and 14. For five places, there are 14.5 full-time positions that suit the children day and night – always doubled.

Jesko Fuhrken explained the pedagogical principles of the housing group: Children and young people must experience the group as a “safe place” where they must feel comfortable; the principle of voluntariness prevails; no child is dismissed for misdemeanor to avoid further breach; Children’s skills and resources are recognized; a stable relationship should be established.

The members of the multi-professional team must have competencies in dealing with violence and existential crises in children; they must be able to withstand unpredictability and act quickly and creatively. You need to develop the ability to take care of yourself and learn to set boundaries. Case guidance, downsizing training, action plans in children’s crises and a training program are therefore among the necessities of the job.

One of Port Nord’s principles is that an employee accompanies a child during a stay in the inpatient psychiatry, ie is present there during the day to avoid a further break in the relationship. This procedure has been agreed with the chief physician of child and adolescent psychiatry in Bremen, with whom the facility collaborates. After the psychiatric stay, the affected child returns to the group home.

The experts from the German Society for Social Psychiatry agreed that many such projects are needed in Germany to help children and young people with challenging behavior in the long run. © PB /

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