Rupture, repair & building resilience in residential care

Residential care is not somewhere kids should have to live.

All children deserve a safe home with adults who care about them. Unfortunately, there are lots of kids who end up living in residential care with paid carers rostered to come into the unit and look after them.

However, for one 11-year-old that we’ve been working with, it’s been a positive place for him to live… temporarily.

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How to adopt a relationship-building approach

COVID has taken a huge toll on our collective mental health and wellbeing in Victoria.

For a lot of people who have previously suffered trauma or experienced any mental health problems it’s been even harder. For some children in out-of-home care who have experienced developmental trauma as a result of neglect or abuse, it’s been devastating.

Reports show during Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, there’s been a dramatic increase in Victorian children hospitalised due to self-harm and an unprecedented number of calls from Victorians to mental health services.

In this article we’ll explain how using a relationship-building approach can help a child feel safer, more secure and cared for.

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Supporting minds & spirits with cultural connections

“Heeeeey, Rob… I, I, I a Abbb-or-ig-in-oool!” he says proudly.

And off he runs again. A few moments later he’s back with a soft toy.

“And it,” he says pointing at his soft cuddly animal, “it, it my t… t… – who it Mum?”

“Totem mate,” says Anna softly, smiling at him.

“Yeah, it my toeeee-tum.” He grins and off he runs again to get his new gumboots to show Robyn, his Take Two clinician on the Zoom video call.

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Celebrating our Elders of tomorrow

By Kim Bradford, Aboriginal Consultant, Berry Street Take Two.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the babies, children and young people referred to Berry Street’s Take Two service are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. 

Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up less than 2% of all Victorian children (Productivity Commission 2020).

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Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies

Babies – like all humans – can have good mental health, poor mental health or anything in between.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to their mental health later in life. All babies need to feel safe and looked after – it’s what sets up their expectations of what a loving relationship feels like.

If the baby is not fed when they are hungry, held when distressed or spoken to regularly, they quickly learn to expect not to be looked after.

Continue reading “Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies”

Sensory strategies for calming the body and mind

Berry Street’s Take Two program has recently had an article published on the CFCA information exchange on the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) website.

The article explains how and why children who have experienced trauma may find it more difficult to regulate their emotions and behaviours than other children.

Practice Development and Training Team Leader Clare Ryan explains how Take Two uses the Regulate–Relate–Reason framework in its clinical work to assist children to calm their bodies and emotions. The framework is a core element of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) approach developed by Dr Bruce Perry in the United States.

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Free Social Story: Getting tested for COVID

Getting tested for COVID is uncomfortable. The nurse or doctor needs to swab the back of the throat and mouth.

Being prepared for the procedure will help children cope better and feel less anxious.

Berry Street’s Take Two Developmental Specialists Team have developed a free printable social story that explains in familiar terms, what will happen and why the test is needed.

Take Two invites carers or parents (especially those looking after children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other developmental differences including a trauma history) to share the social story with their child to make a COVID test more manageable.

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Video: How every caregiver can create healing moments at home every day

Counselling or psychotherapy sessions ─ with the active involvement of carers ─ can be extremely helpful for babies, children and young people who have experienced neglect or abuse.

However, for a child to learn to trust that adults will look after them, those sessions need to be reinforced. Small, easy-to-do, repeated and regular moments can be created in everyday activities to remind the child that their caregiver genuinely cares about them and will look after them.

Continue reading “Video: How every caregiver can create healing moments at home every day”

Video: How regulating bodies helps calm minds

These are challenging times. For some households, the changes COVID-19 is requiring are a struggle. Many families are spending much more time together. Tensions are probably high for lots of adults and children – both will be anxious as they navigate this new way of life.

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Childhood communications delays – a pilot project

How many babies who experience serious hardships in their first year of life have delayed communication skills?

The Berry Street Take Two team based in Bendigo in the Loddon region of Victoria were worried about this. They welcomed a speech pathologist to work with them for more than a year, as part of Take Two’s Communication Project to help understand the scale of the problem.

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Creating a soothing new household rhythm in uncertain times

Predictable activities, rhythms and routines make children and young people feel more secure, safer and cared for. With a little bit of planned structure, children are less likely to feel caught unawares. They will know what to expect.

This is especially important for children in out-of-home care who may be more likely to feel that the world is an unsafe place.

In the current COVID-19 situation with no school and big changes to their daily lives, many children, carers and families are struggling to find a new and reassuring rhythm to their days.

Continue reading “Creating a soothing new household rhythm in uncertain times”

International delegation visits Take Two

By Allison Cox, Director, Berry Street – Take Two

A group of our international colleagues recently came from Norway to spend time with Berry Street’s Take Two service.

The RVTS Sør (South) service is a Norwegian government-funded domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumatic stress, migrant/refugee health and suicide prevention resource centre and training service. They have a special focus on working with children and families.

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