By Barbara Brill
Imagine how you might feel about moving into a community where you have no friends or family. You have four children, limited income, no home furnishings, and you just left your husband due to domestic violence. You are an African American family moving into an almost all-white community where you may not be accepted by everyone.
History and experience have given you no reason to trust, but your children need you no matter how you feel inside. Your faith is strong and you connect with a local church and ask for their help. Generous church members collect furnishings for an apartment and connect you with Turning Points Network (TPN), who helps you locate a place to live. Your pediatrician refers you to TLC.
As the home visitor meeting with this client for the first time, I knew making a connection was critical. Trust is essential and as I began working with this family it was evident that gaining this mom’s trust would be a challenge. After listening to her story I decided that if I were in her shoes I wouldn’t trust anyone either.
And so our work began.
Giving mom a chance to talk about what she needed and what her priorities were was where we started. They were her goals not mine and to her they were overwhelming. I simply helped her prioritize what she needed most and then supported her as she took steps to address each need. Each time she took a risk and reached out to connect to a service I applauded her efforts. Those small steps were not easy, but as she took them things began to improve for her family. Things seemed to settle down.
Then terror struck when she received an eviction notice from her landlord.
She was late paying her rent as another bill took priority. There was never enough money. She had never received an eviction notice before and she was frantic that she and her children would be placed out on the steps. Reading was difficult as she had a learning disability so seeing “Eviction Notice” was all she needed for panic to set in.
She took her children and fled into the night—back to an area where she had distant family, thousands of miles away—leaving everything in her apartment behind. She found it wasn’t so easy to reconnect there either. Supports she thought would be there didn’t materialize. Her children wanted to return to an area where they had started to make connections at school and where their apartment felt like home. She too had begun to feel connected before she left.
She took another risk and reached out to the supports she had identified in her new community—she called them. And with their continued support she decided to return home and try again.
When this mom came back, we began talking about what she might do when future challenges occurred. We used pieces from the Growing Great Kids (GGK) curriculum to design a security quilt made up of resources she could reach out to if something happened.
If the rent was due and money was short there were resources she could access. If she needed a ride when the bus didn’t run—she learned how to contact the local cab companies, she asked what their fees were, and how she could set aside a few dollars each month for emergency rides she might need.
With positive support at each visit her confidence grew.
She took small steps to add supports that would benefit her children such as the All-4-One Play Center and the Claremont Savings Bank Claremont Community Center. Each time we met she received praise for taking steps, for trying something new. Success wasn’t always there but praise was for her willingness to try. Her security quilt became larger and she gained confidence. When issues arose instead of fleeing she looked at other ways she might resolve them.
One year later mom remains connected with TLC and she and her children are doing well. She is a much more confident parent who knows her community, and knows how to access services. She is engaged in her children’s’ education, their health, and she has started thinking about going back to school to further her own education. She knows that she can face challenges that come up as she has a quilt of resources that will help her.
And, her children have watched their mom tackling tough issues, facing them head on, and working through them—lessons they will benefit from when they become adults and face tough issues.
Barbara Brill is a parent educator at TLC Family Resource Center. If you have questions or would like to find out more information, Barbara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-542-1848 ext. 321.
A note from Home Visiting Policy Network about the passage of MIECHV:
As we all know, MIECHV (Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting) still must be reauthorized. Our commitment to seeing that it happens has never wavered and has been strengthened through renewed resources and mechanisms to increase our educational work to stakeholders. As well, we have all seen that the media is joining our push to get MIECHV reauthorization done.
One of the areas of dialogue that has opened up traction is the opioid epidemic. Simply stated, lawmakers are being challenged to demonstrate their commitment to combat the national opioid addiction crisis. The immediate renewal of MIECHV for 5 years would be a fruitful and effective starting point.
Accordingly, we at Home Visiting Policy Network have prepared a brief on the correlation of the MIECHV program and opioid addiction/substance abuse prevention. The following is an excerpt of that brief:
“The opioid crisis in our country is quickly spiraling out of control. This is mainly due to a disconnection between the science of addiction and the treatment of addiction. The medical field has identified addiction as a disease and developed drugs to aid in “kicking the habit” but treatment of the disease has not been effectively implemented as a health crisis. In many cases, proper attention has not been given to early detection and the behavioral implications of the addiction cycle.
For the most part, programs and efforts designed to reduce opioid addiction in the United States have largely focused on providing individuals with drug replacement therapy. Simply swapping out an addicted individual’s drug of choice for an alternative, without the proper corresponding behavioral treatment, has not only proven ineffective in the preventing substance abuse, but has likely contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic. While traditional approaches may have contributed to the current epidemic, MIECHV, through the implementation of its built-in benchmark and underlying constructs, has quietly and steadily been addressing the illicit drug and substance abuse crisis through maternal and infant health programming with demonstrated reductions in illicit drug use amongst families served.
In addition, reauthorizing the MIECHV program for 5 years with bolstered resources, could prove to be a serious step toward tackling the opioid epidemic. This is attainable due to the outcome measurements that are embedded in the MIECHV design. These are known as the benchmark area constructs (constructs) which are used to both guide home visiting models and to evaluate their effectiveness. The constructs tie MIECHV to evidence based behavioral treatments for substance abuse. This is done by including elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) in the constructs…” (Read more…)
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At TLC Family Resource Center we support and strengthen all families, children, and youth in Sullivan and Lower Grafton counties with a wide
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