We identified a family with a three year old through screening at the Pediatric Primary Care Center at Bridgeport Hospital. Mom revealed that she was severely depressed. Although Child First tried multiple times to engage her, they met with little success. It was only when she and her three children were about to be evicted because she could not pay the rent, that she called Child First and the work began. Mom told her story. She ran away with her children from a severe domestic violence situation. They were living in an empty apartment – no beds, tables, or chairs – and she was working three jobs just to pay the rent. She never saw her children. Her three year old was about to be expelled from preschool for aggressive behavior. Her older children, once good students, were now failing in school. She was afraid that when she was evicted and homeless, she would lose her children. She was despondent.
The Child First Team acted immediately. Through further gentle inquiry, this proud mother revealed that her family had been receiving support through TANF, but that the check no longer arrived. The Care Coordinator immediately contacted the Department of Social Services, and found out that it was being sent to her husband, who was in prison. Within three days, the check was redirected to the mother. The effect was dramatic. Mom kept a single job and was able to spend time with her children. She worked with the Mental Health/Development Clinician to understand the anger and pain her children felt when they saw her beaten, and how much they missed her when she was so depressed and working long hours. With psychotherapeutic work with child and parent together, the bright and bubbly three year old returned. The Clinician went to the school to help the teacher understand the terrible circumstances this child endured. Understanding the meaning of her behavior enabled the teacher to be an empathetic support, and the child’s behavior improved almost immediately. With Mom’s supportive presence, the older girls thrived in school once more. The Care Coordinator helped Mom get furniture donations and work out a plan to pay back rent. Mom felt competent and able. Life was good again.