Michigan Case Study 1: The Manor Foundation, Jonesville, Michigan

P.O. Box 98, 115 East Street
Jonesville, MI 49250
(517) 849-2151

The Manor Foundation in Jonesville, Michigan, is both a residential school and a treatment facility. It admits children with a variety of problems that include pervasive developmental disorder, early infantile autism, childhood schizophrenia, mild/moderate mental retardation, and impaired hearing. The Manor Foundation is also set up to treat a category of children who require extraordinary care—those who have been the victims of sexual abuse.

The stated purpose of the Manor Foundation is "to prepare individuals for a return to family or independent living situations" and its programs serve this purpose. The Foundation sees itself, then, as a means toward the reintegration of its students into their prior lives, not as an indefinite suspension of their prior lives, nor as a permanent new life. Located to be removed from modern distractions, the physical features of the Manor Foundation's park-like, thirty-five acre campus provide a quiet, rural setting in which the therapeutic and academic aspects of the school can carried out in an environment that builds mutual trust between the staff and students. Forging the human bond is an integral part of the Foundation's work. Individual care for each student is an important part of the Foundation's "insight-oriented" approach.

Manor teachers help the students set goals and objectives and try to instill the desire and create the opportunity for each students to realize their full potential.

In the behavior modification program, for example, "the staff model appropriate behavior during all time periods as well as offer guidance to the individual students." The technique is not reductively behaviorist, however, or in any other way doctrinaire. It is explicitly ethical. Thus "points are available for the student to earn during each period of the day," with "a clear distinction [being] made between not earning merits (not complying or participating) and merit fines (demerits) for inappropriate behaviors. To offset merit fines, a system for earning make-up points is in place. Time-out and Behavior Management Rooms are used as a means to help the child regain control when necessary."

The current rate of $138.75 per day includes room, board, and tuition. In addition to housing and classrooms, there is also a gymnasium and an exercise facility with an indoor pool.

Students must be in class from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with an hour for lunch a free-time. This is parallels public school hours and illustrates the Foundation's premise that the experience of their residents must resemble that of other children as closely as possible. The curriculum, from elementary to high-school levels, is academically rigorous. Indeed, with a usual class-size of ten, with one teacher and one assistant in the classroom, the student-to-teacher ratio is much lower (five to one) than in the public schools. The Foundation also offers vocational education.

Government funds and private charity are applicable to the Manor Foundation's programs and may help to defer the per diem charge for eligible residents.