Lectoraat Residentiële Jeugdzorg

Background to the living group climate research

Attention to the context in which children and (young) adults functioning is not new, particularly where forensic contexts are concerned. Abroad, as long ago as 1969, Trieschman wrote ‘The other 23 hours’, in which it is argued that a single hour of therapy might have had less affect than the quality of the other 23 hours in which a child with emotional problems also functions. Dutch educationalists too, such as Langeveld and Kok, but also Houweling-Meijer and Visser, adhered to the theory that climate improvement could have a positive impact on development and recovery. The problem, however, was that tools for measuring this climate were often biased, not reliable enough or were too long and complex for the target group.

The development of the living group climate tool by Peer van der Helm and Geert-Jan Stamps gave us the first reliable and valid tool that can also be used in practice and of which the results are recognized and acknowledged by practitioners (Prison Group Climate Inventory, Van der Helm, Stams, & Van der Laan, 2011). This was the incentive for developing more social climate tools (group climate of very young children and MIDB, climate in schools for special education, work-climate etc.), which are currently being used in a large number of institutions and in various countries (England, Germany, Belgium) for quality improvements. Furthermore, tools have also been developed to measure meaningfulness of daily activities in a treatment setting and the work climate of staff (institutions and schools). It has recently been proven that taking measurements and discuss the results with both staff and the ), followed by new measurements has a positive impact on the development of the living group climate of the institution or school.