About This Program

Target Population: Troubled or troubling boys and girls from birth to age 22. Adaptations are made to assure developmental appropriateness across exceptionality(s). Children who are eligible for service in other systems are often referred to the program because of their challenging behavior.

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 22

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 22

Program Overview

Re-ED is an ecological competence approach to helping the range of troubled and troubling children and youth entering child serving systems, with their families. This philosophy-based approach refined its beliefs and practices beginning in 1963, compiling research and evaluation studies. One recent study identified 6 elements seen as essential by Re-ED staff, significantly differing from the views of staff in more traditional programs:

  • Replace pathology with a wellness view
  • Use an ecological orientation
  • Focus on competence and learning
  • Values teaching and counseling roles
  • Build relationships
  • Encourage a culture of questioning and information-based decision-making

Program Goals

The overall goals of Re-ED are:

  • Promote ecologically focused, strength-based, needs-based services to young people and families
  • Promote the development of services on a foundation of actionable principles
  • Promote the development of services that are replicable and measurable

Essential Components

The essential components of Re-ED include:

  • Wellness and strength orientation, rather than pathology based:
    • Records indicate interventions build on strengths and resources.
    • Goals aim to develop capacity for successful living.
  • Ecologically focused involvement:
    • Families or their surrogates are involved in assessment and treatment.
    • Community members and resources are part of interventions.
    • Children or youth stay in or prepare to return to usual community settings.
  • Competence-based interventions:
    • Learning and teaching goals direct many interventions.
    • Skills in many domains are valued and developed.
    • Any or all members of child’s ecology may be assisted in building skills.
  • Relationships seen as critical:
    • Children or youth learn to build and maintain relationships.
    • Social learning goals are central for ecology members.
  • Natural agents in teaching and counseling roles valued and developed:
    • Teacher-counselors are primary treatment vehicles.
    • Ecology members are helped to function in teaching and counseling roles.
  • Ongoing questioning and data-based decision making:
    • Basic tenets of the approach are explicit and valued.
    • Application of those tenets can vary creatively, avoiding orthodoxy.
    • Questioning is valued to improve interventions and program functions.
    • Constant change in the field is expected and monitored through literature.
  • Recommended group size of 8-10 children or youth.

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Re-ED directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Challenging behaviors, skill deficits or learning problems, difficulty interacting with adaptive peers, inability to function in usual child settings, own needs impacted by home and community needs, one or more concomitant problems may accompany the above requiring additional expertise

Parent/Caregiver Services

Re-ED directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parents of children, often considered "troubled or troubling," with challenging behaviors and possibly with commitment problems

Recommended Intensity:

Children and youth with highly challenging needs are often in day or residential settings. Those with language functioning adequate for group interaction usually have multiple 15-minute to more than an hour-long group meetings daily, each held for specific purposes (planning, problem solving, evaluation, strengths focused meetings, etc.). Other groups formed for different purposes meet regularly on differing schedules.

Recommended Duration:

For services without group treatment formats, durations likewise vary from days to months. The intensity of these services varies, depending on the service type, and range from a matter of days (e.g., for assessment and referral) to the calendar or school year (e.g., day treatment or intensive home treatment).

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Agency
  • Foster/Kinship Care
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Residential Care Facility
  • School


Re-ED includes a homework component:

Both children or youth and parents often have behavioral goals to accomplish for themselves between meetings.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

No information was provided by the program representative.

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Professional qualifications for the job held or sought, as required by the agency, service type, state and federal regulations (e.g., degrees, certifications, licenses, life experiences).

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Training can be obtained on-site and provided regionally, but observations in programs with coordinated activities are recommended. Some programs regularly offer training institutes at their own sites for others interested in attending.

Number of days/hours:

The Introductory training modules usually require two days for a group unfamiliar with the program, but may be divided into 6 segments for programs needing different schedules. In general, training days/hours vary, depending on the needs of the agency, as indicated by their performance on the assessment factors, and on their own objectives for knowledge and implementation in what service type(s).

Additional Resources:

There currently are additional qualified resources for training:

  • John Amato, MA
    FamilyLinks (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • James Doncaster, MA
    Pressley Ridge (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Hughes Johnston, MA
    Youth Villages (Memphis, TN)
  • Thomas Murdock, MA
    Centerstone (Nashville, TN)
  • Thomas Valore, PhD
    Positive Education Program (Cleveland,OH)
  • Bridget Walker, PhD
    Washington American Re-Education Association (Seattle, WA)

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Weinstein, L. (1969). Project Re-Ed schools for emotionally disturbed children: Effectiveness as viewed by referring agencies, parents and teachers. Exceptional Children, 35(9), 703-711.

Type of Study: Pretest/Posttest
Number of Participants: 103


  • Age — Site 1: Mean=10.9 years. Site 2: Mean=10.2 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Site 1: 100% White. Site 2: 96% White
  • Gender — Site 1: 78% Male. Site 2: 83% Male
  • Status — Participants were children referred by child welfare agencies to residential treatment.

Location/Institution: Nashville, TN and Durham, NC

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study tested the effectiveness of Re-education for Emotionally Disturbed Children (Re-Ed) [now called Re-ED] at two sites that both run Re-Ed. Participating parents rated their child’s behavior prior to enrollment in Re-Ed and again at 6 and 18 months postintervention. The scale used are the Symptom Checklist, the Social Maturity Scale, and the a semantic differential measure that compares the way the child describes himself and the way the parents describe him, using a series of polar adjectives. At six months, symptoms and undesirable behaviors were rated as significantly lower than at baseline and the parents’ and child’s ratings were more in agreement. Researchers also had teachers rate children before they left school to enter Re-Ed and 6 months after returning to school. Included were the Student Role Behavior Scale and a global rating created from questionnaire and open-ended items given to the teacher on the dimensions of behavioral-emotional adjustment academic adequacy. Students were rated as significantly improved on all dimensions after the Re-Ed intervention. Limitations of this study include lack of a comparison group, generalizability of findings due to ethnicity, and length of follow-up time.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6 and 18 months.

Hooper, S. R., Murphy, J., Devaney, A., & Hultman, T. (2000). Ecological outcomes of adolescents in a psychoeducational residential treatment facility. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(4), 491-500.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study, cross-sectional
Number of Participants: 111


  • Age — 13-16 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 60% Caucasian
  • Gender — 67% Male
  • Status — Participants were youth in a state-run re-education residential treatment program.

Location/Institution: The Whitaker School, NC

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
Baseline measures were taken on characteristics of the participants at admission into the Re-education for Emotionally Disturbed Children (Re-ED) [now called Re-ED] residential program. Measures included IQ, reading, math and language proficiency, scores on the Child Behavior Checklist, length of time in residence, and number of placements. At follow-up, case managers contacted teachers and school psychologists to obtain ratings of satisfactory or nonsatisfactory in the adjustment domains of legal, school, and level of care. A satisfactory rating in the legal domain was defined as no new illegal activity. Adjustment at school was defined as attendance, graduation, or obtaining a GED, and level of case adjustment was defined as no unplanned hospitalization or more restrictive level of treatment after discharge. An average of 58% were functioning adequately in all three domains across the time span, with the lowest number remaining at that level by 24 months (28%). By the criterion of satisfactory function in at least two domains, between 71% (24 months) and 97% (6 months) reached the required level. The most successful students tended to be younger, female, have higher IQ and reading skills, have better scores on parent-rated internalizing symptoms, and to have been discharged more recently. Limitations include a lack of comparison group and the subjected nature of satisfactory ratings across domains.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6, 12, 18, or 24 months (each participant contacted in only one of these time periods).

Fields, E., Farmer, E. M. Z., Apperson, J., Mustillo, S., & Simmers, D. (2006). Treatment and posttreatment effects of a residential treatment using a Re-education model. Behavioral Disorders, 31(3), 312-322.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 98


  • Age — 7-13 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 65% Caucasian and 35% African American
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants were children admitted to a state-sponsored residential treatment facility.

Location/Institution: Unknown

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of a short-term residential treatment program, Re-education for Emotionally Disturbed Children (Re-ED) [now called Re-ED]. Participants were children with at least one psychiatric diagnosis, most with ADHD, externalizing disorders, and or mood disorders. At baseline, parents/guardians completed measures including the externalizing subscale of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale (BERS), and the Child and Adolescent Services Assessment (CASA). Data was also collected on recent residential history, legal encounters, and a checklist of problems and functioning. Measures were repeated at discharge and at 3 and 6 months after the program and also included questions about the use of recommended services. Participants showed significant improvement on the CBCL and BERS. This deteriorated somewhat over 6 months, but continued to be significantly better than baseline. The majority of children reached and maintained scores within the normal range on the BERS and about half did so on the CBCL. For the BERS, youth who were younger, male, and from higher SES families improved most by discharge, but these variables were not related to scores taken later. Length of stay in the program did predict higher later BERS scores. The authors note that children with a shorter stay in the program were less likely to consistently receive recommended services after discharge. Limitations include lack of a comparison group, small sample size, and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 and 6 months.

Additional References

Cantrell, R., & Cantrell, M. (Eds.) (2007). Helping troubled children and youth: Continuing evidence for the Re-ED approach. Memphis, TN: American Re-EDucation Association.

Valore, T., Cantrell, R., & Cantrell, M. L. (2006). Competency building in the context of groups. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 14(4), 228-235.

Freado, M. D. (2010). Measuring the impact of Re-ED. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 19(2), 28-31

Contact Information

Agency/Affiliation: American Re-Education Association
Phone: (614) 783-6314

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2015

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2014

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2008