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Mia became involved with the The Benevolent Society when she was a single mother to four children and pregnant with her fifth.

Mia was referred to The Benevolent Society by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) as a single mother to four children, and while she was pregnant with her fifth, Mia was struggling to cope with the care of her children. She had little insight into the negative impact her behaviour and limited understanding of their needs was having on their safety and well-being. Additionally, Mia left her children without financial support or adequate arrangements for their ongoing care whilst she was away for an extended period, and it was at this time that FACS became involved; subsequently the four children were placed into foster care.

 

When she was referred to The Benevolent Society Resilient Families, FACS  had no immediate plans to reunite Mia with her children and were also concerned about her ability to safely care for the new baby following the birth. The Resilient Families caseworker noted that Mia’s interactions with FACS were quite adversarial. At Mia’s request, the Resilient Families caseworker began to accompany her as a support when she met with FACS. That support, as well as the parenting and child development education Mia received working with Resilient Families, helped her to gain greater insight into how best to provide a safe and nurturing environment for her children.

Mia  and Mum

As Mia’s knowledge and understanding increased, her attitude changed. She came to realise that she had to build positive relationships with her children and demonstrate her ability to care for them and protect them from harm. This dramatic change in her attitude and parenting ability was noted and commented on positively by FACS caseworkers. Mia also realised that her best chance of keeping the baby in her care, and eventually having the four older children returned to her, was to learn all she could from the Resilient Families program. One of the challenges she originally faced was the lack of support from either extended family or social networks in her community. This contributed to her feelings of isolation and to her reliance on poor coping strategies that impacted her ability to safely care for her children.

Over the period that Resilient Families worked with Mia, FACS caseworkers noted that she had significantly improved her parenting skills. Through Resilient Families, Mia has learned the value of building strong social networks in her community, where she now attends regular parenting group meetings with her baby. She shares the knowledge she gained working with Resilient Families with other parents in her community and that has resulted in several approaches from parents seeking to enter the Program.

FACS was able to close their case in relation to Mia’s baby with the infant still safely in Mia’s care. Mia has now left Resilient Families after having met her case plan goals. She continues to work positively with FACS in relation to her four older children and maintains regular visits with all of them. Through her involvement with the Program she has developed confidence in her ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for her baby and continues to work towards being permanently reunited with all of her children.

‘From a professional view, seeing parents hug and play with their child with ease, hearing a parent advocate for themselves for the first time is very rewarding,’ said Sue, the senior Child and Family case worker.

‘There are some things which cannot be measured on paper but are very valuable,’ she added. ‘It is great to have the opportunity to work alongside families and observe what they are able to achieve throughout their time with Resilient Families. The program is genuinely there to support families to develop the skills to ensure their children are safe, happy and healthy’.

Sue went on to say that, ‘It is great to be part of a program which embraces and respects the diverse needs and experiences of each family, and works with them to support lasting change. 

* Names and dates have been changed to protect our clients and their children.

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