Lives in the balance

Today’s guest author is Maile Munson. Lives in the Balance introduced Maile as its new Director of Advocacy in September, 2020. Maile has more than 20 years of experience in supporting young people with emotional, social, and behavioral challenges in a variety of school settings, including residential homes, therapeutic day schools, public schools, and private independent day schools. In addition to her license in clinical social work, she is a certified provider and trainer in the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model and conducts a private practice. Maile is overseeing Lives in the Balance’s efforts to eliminate the use of detention, suspension, expulsion, paddling, restraint, and seclusion in schools and therapeutic facilities, and addressing the disproportional use of these practices in Black and Brown youth.


After the release of our award-winning documentary film, ​The Kids We Lose,​ ​Lives in the Balance launched a public awareness campaign with the goal of changing the way caregivers think about and treat our most vulnerable children. We are heightening awareness of the plight of these children and of the obsolete disciplinary practices that contribute to their alienation and marginalization. We are ensuring that facilities serving our most at-risk youth receive training to replace archaic, punitive practices with evidenced-based, effective, proactive, and compassionate strategies.

Lives in the Balance disseminates a model of care called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS), a non-punitive, non-adversarial, trauma-informed, evidence-based model of care developed by Dr. Ross Greene. The model is based on the premise that concerning behaviors occur when the expectations being placed on a kid exceeds the kid’s capacity to respond adaptively. The emphasis of the model is not on the behavior, but rather on identifying the skills the kid is lacking and the expectations he or she is having difficulty meeting. The goal is to help the kids and caregivers solve the problems that are causing difficulty rather than attempting to modify behavior through rewards and punishments. It is these problems that are setting in motion the behaviors that result in restraint and seclusion. Because those problems are highly predictable and identifiable, they can be solved proactively. In other words, when we get in front of the problem — true crisis prevention — the cycle of restraint and seclusion is never set in motion. More details on this at ​www.truecrisisprevention.org​.

Lives in the Balance has helped hundreds of schools reduce or eliminate discipline referrals, detentions, and suspensions. And we have dramatically reduced or eliminated the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, inpatient psychiatric units, and residential and juvenile detention facilities. If you are interested in supporting our mission, become a Lives in the Balance ​Advocator.​ We will let you know how you can be engaged on the issue in your state, province, or country. And for lots of additional information about what we do and the CPS model, check out the Lives in the Balance ​website​.

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