Insight From Our Clinical Director: Part 2
Interviewer: Can you share any recent stories that are memorable to you?
Jamie: Yes, several, but one that is most poignant right now is that of a 13-year-old young man who has a sibling who is in a pre-adoptive foster home circumstance. Now, this foster family will not adopt him and yet we thought it was really important that the brothers continue to have contact with each other. So once a week the younger brother comes with two workers. When he’s here they do all types of things with each other – they might throw a football or run around. The visits are most successful when they are outdoors, and that is very weather dependent. Now, they’re 14 year olds, and if we had a larger space that was more welcoming to family, a space with a little play area, a space that’s isolated from where we do all our other business – we would see more success. Currently, our visits are in the heart of where we do business all day, every day - phone calls, visits, therapy sessions, staff member offices, clerical and support staff – so it’s a really busy place.
Additionally, we currently have three young men who are working on re-establishing relationships with family members whose rights have been terminated, meaning that years ago the family member had some issues that precluded them from successfully or safely parenting, so that the state had to intervene. Our goal is to redefine this young person with that family member, connecting them and establishing a relationship, and to do this takes supervision.
Our families, by the time they come to us, have been in the hallways of public buildings, courtrooms, state welfare offices, CMO workers’ offices, probation officer offices. Having a family center that is more inviting, welcoming and therapeutic is really critical to our success. If we had a dedicated space, that was a visiting space, then they’re far less likely to feel threatened by the surroundings and the supervision, and more likely to be open to the process of healing.
One of our larger families visits often. The mom and siblings come, and when you walk down the hallways they’re having a party and that’s great. There’s music and there’s food that the mom will prepare. And again, in the space that we have, which is so constricted, it’s really hard… it’s a small space for them all to fit in. Our current family room is the size of small office. To be able to give them a different space to share a meal and have the ability for them to bring the younger children as well, will be an amazing opportunity for them.To be continued…