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The family that this report is addressed to consists of four members; 29-years old Carla, her partner, 27-years old Tom and two young siblings Marnie and Hope aged 11 and 6 years respectively. The mother, Carla had been admitted in a hospital due to drug-use. Now released, the mother is receiving outpatient care and attending programs regularly. Meanwhile, the two daughters have been in temporary foster care under the care of Janine and Max, aged 52 and 53 years respectively. The mother meets her two children consistently under the supervision of the social worker.
Over the course of three months, the family’s situation has been properly assessed in order to understand the best approach that can be adopted for this particular family. The assessment has led to various insights into the family situation. Firstly, the mother is affectionate towards her children. At no point did the mother seem abusive nor did the children seem scared of her. A visible connection was witnessed in between the mother and the children. At the same time, the partner Tom is not very emotionally attached to the children. Secondly, it has been brought to notice that the mother continues to battle her addiction due to the drug-use of her partner Tom. As explained by the Social Learning theory, the mother’s observation of her partner indulging in addictive substances led to the development of her own addiction (Horvath et. al., 2020). Further, the mother worries that a relapse might take place. It has also been brought to notice that Tom is not receiving any treatment for his drug-use. Thirdly, the elder sibling Marnie has shown signs of withdrawal from her school, her peers and foster-parents. As stated by the Attachment Theory, a child-mother relationship is very essential and such separations can cause insecure attachments and other psychological issues for a child (Howard et. al., 2011). Marnie is visibly less-interactive with individuals other than her sister and is also seen having heavy emotional responses while meeting her mother. This can also be attributed to Separation Anxiety that Marnie is facing (SCH, 2020). It has also been witnessed that Marnie shows lower stress and anxiety levels when she is with her real mother (McWey et. al., 2010). At the same time, the younger sibling is not showing any signs of withdrawal and Separation Anxiety. This however, cannot be attributed as an absence of depression as different children have different ways of showing it (McWey et. al., 2010). Resilience (flexibility when moving in between caretakers (Keddell, 2016)) shown by Hope should not necessarily be interpreted as positive or negative without further assessment.
From the three months observation period, it is obvious that Tom also needs to go through various programs and give-up the use of drugs entirely. The relations in between the children and Tom need to be better assessed and subsequently actions need to be taken. Carla’s hesitancy to speak up in front of Tom points at limited communication and understanding in between the two. Couples therapy or family therapy might be needed by Carla and Tom. The sibling Marnie and Hope might also need to undergo therapy in order to avoid any stress or psychological issues. The family bond needs to be improved along with nullifying any chances of relapse.
After careful assessment, the following goals have been set for the family:
This plan of action will be followed for the next 6 months and that will be followed by a final assessment of the situations at that point in time. The plan of action is as follows:
The method of Parenting Intervention, Couple counseling and family therapy session will be utilized for this particular family. After six months of these sessions, it is desired that the family can be reunited. These methods were chosen after careful analysis of the current situations of the children and the couple. It is also important to note that along with these sessions that parents are also required to attend their regular drug-rehabilitation programs and are also permitted to visit the children once a week under the supervision of the social worker.
The methods of Parenting Intervention and Couples Counseling were chosen in order to shape Carla and Tom into a better set of parents. This will help them understand each other as individuals and offer each other emotional support through this journey. This will also strengthen their parenting techniques and improve their knowledge about the various needs children have. These programs will especially improve Tom’s contributions to the family as a parent. Emotional Interventions were not included in this family plan as Carla has shown no signs of aggression or emotional instability. However, if their need is felt the Emotional Intervention will be immediately initiated for Carla.
Along with that, the Family Therapy session that will utilize the family-professional collaboration will also be scheduled once in a month. These sessions will be focused on improving the communication and understanding within the family members. Along with this, this will also help give insights into the emotional state of the children which will help the social worker further understand the situation. At the moment, no individual therapy is being prescribed to both the children and they only are required to attend the family therapy.
When I was first assigned this case, I did not expect it to turn out this way. When a person usually gets assigned a case of drug-addicted parents, in most cases the parents fail to re-gain custody of their children. I’ve seen addiction get the better of people, and thankfully, that was not the case with this family.
Carla has two beautiful children who she cares about a lot. The children, too, love their mother and are always very happy to see her. I’ve never quiet seen a drug-addicted parent like Carla, so patient and soft, makes me almost forget that she’s going through an internal struggle. Tom, on the other hand seems distant to me. I haven’t seen Tom visit the kids as much and have barely had a chance to properly observe his behavior. In spite of that, on my first meeting with the family I knew that I will try my best to make their family work as a whole. I believe in second chances, and I knew from the start that Carla deserves a second chance at motherhood more than anyone else.
When I narrated the entire 6 months plan to Carla and Tom, they were both visibly happy and relieved that they hadn’t lost custody over the kids. Carla was almost in tears, and I understand that because of all the hard-work she has to put in to stay clean. Tom was happy too, but I got the sense that he was happier for Carla than he was about the possibility of getting the kids back. Once we got into the details of the plan, Carla and Tom became a little more tense. I think it was because they realized that it in an elaborate plan which will require endurance on their ends. Contrary to what I had expected, Tom was not unhappy about the drug rehabilitation sessions he’d have to attend. Tom looked comfortable with all the conditions, and said that he’d been looking for a way out of the drug world and that he believed this was his chance to be a better parent, and a better person. This reply has completely shocked me. From what Carla had told me Tom was the one who started the drug use and later got Carla involved in them; and I didn’t expect him to take the news so well. But again, it looked like he wanted to be a better person for Carla.
They spoke to me at length about how they have been battling addiction for a long time and just wanted to start over again. Tom regarded Carla’s hospitalization as his life changing moment. Tom also expressed that he had not stopped consuming them till date, and knew that that was wrong on his part. Carla was visibly touched by this revelation.
I think Carla and Tom can make this work; provided they support each other and their children through this tough phase. I, too, will try my best to be as supportive as possible for Hope’s and Marnie’s sake.
An, M., & Palisano, R. J. (2013). Family–professional collaboration in pediatric rehabilitation: a practice model. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(5), 434–440.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Reunification: Bringing your children home from foster care. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
Hovrath, T., Mishra, K., Epner, A., & Cooper, G. M. (2020). SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY OF ADDICTION AND RECOVERY IMPLICATIONS. Retrieved from https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=48347&cn=1408
Howard, K., Martin, A., Berlin, L. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2011). Early mother–child separation, parenting, and child well-being in Early Head Start families. Attachment & Human Development, 13(1), 5–26.
Keddell, E. (2016). Interpreting children’s best interests: Needs, attachment and decision-making. Journal of Social Work, 17(3), 324–342.
McWey, L. M., Acock, A., & Porter, B. E. (2010). The impact of continued contact with biological parents upon the mental health of children in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(10), 1338–1345.
SCH. (2020). Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children. Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=separation-anxiety-disorder-90-P02582
Suchman, N., Pajulo, M., DeCoste, C., & Mayes, L. (2006). Parenting Interventions for Drug-Dependent Mothers and Their Young Children: The Case for an Attachment-Based Approach*. Family Relations, 55(2), 211–226.
Trotter, C. (2013). Collaborative Family Work: A practical guide to working with families in the human services (1st ed.). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
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