edited by Julie M. Rosenweig, Ph.D., and Eileen M. Brennan, Ph.D.; Baltimore, Brookes Publishing, 2008, 400 pages, $34.95
Dr. Klaehn is medical director, Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities, and on the faculty of the Child Psychiatry Residency Program, Maricopa Integrated Health System, Phoenix.
The title of this book would lead the reader to assume that it is a practitioner's guide to providing community-based supports to children with disabling mental illness and their families. Although it is not a how-to manual on family support, it is a useful review of the research literature on community supports of all types. The editors of this volume focus on "work-life integration"—a concept that is relatively new to the mental health field but well known to persons working in the field of human resources. Optimal work-life integration is essential for families that must juggle the responsibilities of employment and raising children with and without disabilities. As the book emphasizes, a supportive and flexible workplace is essential to both the economic and emotional well-being of a family facing the challenge of raising a child with a disability.
Although some readers skip over the foreword and preface of books, these are both well worth reading in this volume. The foreword is written by the late Jane Knitzer, the author of Unclaimed Children, which was published in the early 1980s and is the first book to identify and describe the nationwide lack of accessible mental health services for children (especially those in out-of-home care). Knitzer's passing was a major loss to the system-of-care movement; thus it is a pleasure to read her foreword to this book. The preface, written by the editors, provides an excellent summary of the legal supports and protections for workers who have children with disabilities.
One of the strengths of this volume is that it begins each chapter with a lengthy vignette, describing a child, his or her family, their support needs, and how the local system of care meets (or does not meet) their needs. The strongest chapters weave the vignette into the body of the chapter, using it to illustrate multiple points the author wishes to emphasize. The chapters on work-life integration barriers and supports, child care, and economic impact and supports are especially strong in this regard. The chapters on mental health services and supports and school-family collaboration are also well written and survey the research literature comprehensively.
This book is recommended as a resource for persons needing familiarity with the evidence base for both formal (professionally provided and paid for) and informal (often volunteer supported and family driven) community-based supports. It would be an excellent reference for those writing system-of-care and other community-based services grants.
The reviewer reports no competing interests.