Parents and carers: be kind to yourself

This an unpredictable and uncertain time for everyone. With schools closing many parents and carers are wondering how they are going to cope for long periods at home with the children and young people in their care.

It’s the same as what they tell you on planes. You need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. It’s a huge struggle to care for children if we neglect to look after ourselves. While you may think: ‘easier said than done’ – it really does make a difference.

Here are 4 steps you can follow to help you be kind to yourself.

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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.

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Caring for children in out-of-home care during the COVID-19 outbreak

Communities around the world are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. And for anyone who has suffered trauma or lives with anxiety normally, it’s an even more difficult time.

For families with children – especially children who are in out-of-home care – spending weeks at home without any school or other group activities will likely be pretty tough at times.

Over the coming weeks, Berry Street’s Take Two service will be providing resources to help families with children who have experienced developmental trauma to support and manage their wellbeing.

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How culture helped a child find his voice

By Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two

Lots of 7-years-olds wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly. But Jay can.

Jay is an Aboriginal child going to a local primary school in suburban Melbourne. But unlike the others in his class, he has only just started talking.

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Speech pathology and why it’s needed in Take Two

By Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two

Monica has recently joined Berry Street’s Take Two service as our Senior Speech Pathologist.

It’s thought that at least half of the children and young people we work with have communications difficulties. This can contribute to feelings of anxiety and frustration that might lead to social isolation, aggression or depression when they can’t understand what others are telling them or express themselves properly.

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If We Value the Expertise of Children and Young People

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“Yet, without the participation of experts we won’t be successful. And the expert is the child”

Janusz Korczak

I have recently begun to ask myself the question: how different would out-of-home care look if we truly valued the expertise of the children and young people that live in it? In fact, would so many children, young people and families be so enmeshed in the benevolent web of services that accompany the child protection and out-of-home care systems if those systems routinely and genuinely valued the expertise of children and young people right from the beginning?

My internal dialogue takes the discussion further… Let’s say, for one utopic moment, that we sit as equals at the table with young people who have experienced abuse, neglect and the terrifying complexity of the system set up to serve their ‘best interests’. Let’s imagine that they have proffered arguments and evidence alongside academics, experienced sector professionals and bureaucrats, in support of approaches (for we know without doubt that one size does not fit all) that focus on making their childhood good. What might that look like? And more importantly who would have the courage to make it happen?

We won’t ever know if we don’t ask.

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Young people who have lived through abuse and neglect and have subsequently been bounced, powerless, through the pinball machine of court processes, case managers, care placements, care plans and repeated attempts to ‘go home’ – these young people know. They know what it all feels like. Under their skin, in their hearts, they know how it feels.

Countless reforms and ‘system improvements’ will continue to achieve minimal success at best if we continue to prevent the key experts from leading the discussions and shedding light on the impact of decisions made by people so far from the ground that we all look like ants from where they sit.

Maybe childhood would be better for the huge numbers of children and young people in care if we were prepared to let them show us how to make it so. We won’t know unless we try.

Post written by:  Lauren Oliver, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Berry Street Childhood Institute

Family Drug Treatment Court

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The first Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC) in Australia launched in Melbourne earlierthis year.

The FDTC is a non-adversarial or problem-solving court model and its aim is to promote family reunification or earlier permanent care decisions for families where parental substance misuse is a major contributing factor of children being placed in out-of-home care.

Whilst participants are engaged in the FDTC, they are supported to address and own their substance misuse and recovery. Intensive clinical case management and wrap-around support is provided by a multi-disciplinary team to address any number of overlapping and complex issues including substance misuse, mental health, housing, family violence, financial and parenting issues.

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Conference delegates will have the opportunity to hear prominent international speakers Justice Peggy Hora and Megan Wheeler, who have years of operational experience in the FDTC sector in the US, discuss why the FDTC works and what intensive case management is all about in this particular practice setting.

There is also the opportunity to sign up for Master Classes to engage even more in depth with specific topics such as development and implementation of FDTC, evaluating success of FDTC, and the intersection between child protection and the FDTC.

Early bird tickets are available until October 17, so don’t miss out!