We find families for children who are in the residential child care system, because we know that a child’s life story can change when they grow up in a safe, loving and permanent family. Here is one story about how we prepare children for family. (*Name has been changed for protection of identity.)
Chi Man’s mother grew up in an unstable family relationships with a history of substance abuse, and gave birth to him when she was only 14. Unable to care for Chi Man by herself, this vulnerable young woman put her son into the foster system, hoping one day to be able to bring him home again.
Going to the real source of the problem
Chi Man spent less than 10 months in his first foster care home, and it didn’t go well. His foster parents struggled as he would wake up crying and screaming at nap times and at night. His next two foster placements for only two months each, which only exacerbated his fear and anxiety, and made his sleeping problems worse. The real source of the problem was not having a secure attachment to a loving care giver, made worse by continuing to bounce around the system.
By the time Chi Man was referred to the Mother’s Choice Child Care Home for his fifth residential care placement, he was 18 months old and we were told that this traumatized child could “never be with a family”. Our Early Intervention Team assessment showed that he was resistant to care, had extreme problems with sleep, and his inability to make his own choices from being moved from home to home had led to frustration and anger management issues. Lack of consistent care also resulted in poor attention and play skills, problems with biting other children, and night terrors.
The 3 Rs
At Mother’s Choice, we emphasize the Three R’s: Regulate, Relate, and Reason. To help a vulnerable child to learn, think, and reflect, we need to intervene in the sequence of the Three R’s. Chi Man first needed to build secure attachment, so he was given two child care workers to exclusively bond with as his main caregivers during the day. We wanted Chi Man to learn how to trust adults again.
We also aimed to give him more understanding and control over his environment, helping him to feel safe. Every activity in the day, such as reading or feeding times, was shown on a visual card so that he could understand his choices and the activities that would take place. We also placed him into the Tier 2 Early Intervention Program, so that he would receive individual and group therapy and slowly develop his communication, social, sensory regulation and motor skills.
Early intervention is key
After six months of dedicated work with the Mother’s Choice Early Intervention team and being surrounded by caring and loving caregivers, we began to see Chi Man’s frustration and anxiety subside. As his anxiety levels lowered, his sleep patterns naturally improved. Instead of waking up more than three times a night screaming and banging his head against the bed for over 30 minutes before settling back to sleep, he began to wake up once or not at all, with only a brief cuddle needed to get him back to sleep.
The team encouraged his verbal and attention skills, which continue to improve every day. His life at Mother’s Choice continues to flourish. Chi Man has gone from initially not seeking contact from anyone, to making friends and enjoy being the ‘big brother’ to the smaller children. A recent log in his file stated his ‘love of hugs’. This improvement is a shining example of his changed perception towards life. Caring for a child experiencing any form of trauma can be extremely challenging. Chi Man reminds us that regardless of age, genetics or physical ability, we can help children reach their fullest potential with a lot of love, access to early intervention…and hugs!
Chi Man’s story gives us hope, and we believe that he will one day soon be able to join a forever family.
Can I refer a child in need to Mother’s Choice?
Referrals should be made by a registered social worker. For enquiries, please call us at 2313 5648 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I help support a child in need?
We believe it takes a village to raise a child, and we need your help.
If you would Mother’s Choice is looking for skilled and passionate professionals with a heart to serve. As the first step in this volunteer journey, we invite you to an Info Session so that you can get to know us better! More details at at https://www.motherschoice.org/en/take-action/
If you would like to help give us security in looking after the needs of our children with a stable supply of diapers, wet wipes, milk powder, access to early intervention therapies and treatments, please consider becoming a monthly donor. More details at www.motherschoice.org/en/donate/