In this readable book, Zvi Levy, Hadassim’s Director, provides a careful account of how, over time, he and others have shaped a community to foster health, identity, and competence in distressed young people. Canadian WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) Hadassim is a thriving youth village in Israel that is home for 500 young people and a day educational program for an additional 1,000. Negotiating Positive Identity in a Residential Group Care Community illustrates the organizational expression of a developmental idea, in this case Erik Erikson’s identity development theory, to show how an environment can be created to cope with disrupted development processes among children and adolescents. The book describes an ongoing experiment that started fifteen years ago and has since been recognized as an outstanding success. The basic information and ideas expressed by Levy can be used to improve the effectiveness of any framework through which adolescents pass during the stages of development, including schools, community centers, and normal families. Some of the main topics discussed in this volume are:
- principles for running a multicultural facility
- organization of the daily life of a large residential setting
- major parameters in a residential setting as derived from the theories of Erik Erikson on adolescence as a developmental stage
- comprehensive care for youth in transition and adolescents suffering from aggravated identity crisesAll child and youth care workers and program administrators can learn much from Levy’s account of Hadassim. Negotiating Positive Identity in a Residential Group Care Community will be disturbing to many who adhere to the current tenets of good management and child care practice; readers need to be prepared to have many assumptions and beliefs challenged. The book emphasizes the distress of immigrant and troubled urban youth as an aggravated identity crisis, the cause of which needs to be treated before the symptom. This volume is of interest to theoreticians, practitioners, and policymakers in the fields of education, child and youth care, and developmental psychology, as well as scholars in Erikson’s theories. It is also useful in courses which study education in Israel or that seek solutions to problems such as homeless youth in the Third World.Negotiating Positive Identity in a Residential Group Care Community stresses that:
- The answer to deprivation is not the provision of efficient services, but an environment and an approach that encourages adolescents to see themselves as active participants and not as patients or passive inmates.
- Residential settings for children and adolescents can successfully handle large numbers and, in fact, larger numbers can offer some definite advantages.
- The best way to help children develop into autonomous adults is to give them responsibility for their own choices within the framework of a goal-oriented community.