When a parent has difficulty meeting the needs of their children, the extended family can work together to create a safe and stable home. That was how Annie* found the best outcome for her four young children.
We began working with Annie at a time when she was separated from her partner, Jake, who was incarcerated. They both had a history of drug abuse and their relationship had been violent.
As a single parent, Annie faced a number of challenges, including a chronic medical condition, mental health concerns and ongoing drug use. She was finding it difficult to provide for the basic care of her children and her eldest daughter had taken on the role of caring for her siblings.
Annie and her children had support from Annie’s mother and sister, but the children no longer had any contact with their father. The relationship between Annie and Jake’s families was complex and difficult.
When Annie and her family were referred to our Resilient Families Program, our goal was to empower Annie to create a safe environment for her children so that they would be able to stay in her care.
Our team worked with Annie to support her in managing her health, developing her parenting skills, and keeping her children safe. We also helped her to access childcare, holiday activities and therapeutic support for her children.
Unfortunately, over time, it became clear that Annie would not be able to care for her children long term. Her goal then was to find an alternative solution that would allow the children to stay within the care of family, and to build strong, healthy relationship within their wider family network.
With Annie’s agreement, our Resilient Families team reached out to Jake, who was keen to be part of his children’s lives again on his release from jail. The biggest hurdle to this was the relationship between Jake and Annie’s family, so we facilitated an emotional meeting where they took the first steps towards reconciliation and rebuilding trust.
Jake and Annie agreed that the best option for the children would be to live with their grandmother and aunt, there they could see Annie regularly. They would also have ongoing contact with Jake, starting with visits and outings and building up to overnight stays once he left rehabilitation and was able to offer them a suitable home environment.
Although the outcome was that Annie’s children were not able to stay in her care, they have remained in a secure home with family, and the building of relationships between all family members has allowed for a positive and collaborative approach to their care going forward.
The effort that went into repairing relationships between family members has been of great benefit to the children.
If you would like to know more about our Child & Parent Support Services or other programs and activities run by The Benevolent Society, please call us on 1800 236 762.
*Names and images have been changed to protect members of the family