Parents Are Important!
In the Parent-Child Involvement Project, the foundation of our work with families is built on our belief that safe parents or caregivers are in the best and most dynamic position to support their children in recovering from exposure to family violence. To develop resiliency in the face of trauma, children need nurturing and supportive parenting more than anything else. As such, our trauma informed, therapeutic work with families takes place in the home, where the parent-child relationship naturally occurs. Our Parent-Child Specialists stand alongside parents who may be struggling with their own stress and trauma, joining them in repairing parent-child bonds that are often damaged by family violence. Rather than “fixing” affected children, Parent-Child Specialists support parents in building on their natural strengths, so that they may feel more confident in meeting the needs of their children. We believe that trauma is healed in the context of long term, supportive relationships.
Working With Child Welfare
A difficult reality for many families surviving domestic violence is child welfare involvement. Though this may not be true for all families, it is true for many of the families that PChIP supports. Because the child welfare system can feel daunting for families in crisis, Parent-Child Specialists utilize their collaborative relationships with child welfare staff to stand with families navigating this system. Our PChIP staff is well informed about DHS processes, the dependency court system and child protective services. We use this experience to buoy child welfare involved families, supporting positive outcomes and working for change within systems. We also use our expertise to provide consultation, training, and education for child welfare staff about the impact of domestic violence on families and children. We envision a world where safe parents are supported in raising their children.
Parent-Child Specialists follow the Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) model in their therapeutic work with families. Developed by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn, Child-Parent Psychotherapy, considered an evidence based practice by the state of Oregon, is a trauma-informed, relationship based model. The five core concepts of CPP are:
- The quality of attachment that children have with their caregivers is critical to healthy child development. Because family violence often disrupts this attachment, interventions must focus on healing the attachment between safe parents and children.
- Traumas in early childhood that lead to emotional and behavioral problems need to be healed within the context of the child’s primary attachment (parent/caregiver) relationships.
- Children are part of a larger network, including family, community, neighborhood, society, etc. Children are impacted by the level of supports available in their networks; therefore, if families experience racism, poverty, or other forms of oppression, those experiences add stress to the family unit which may also add stress to child development. Therefore, interventions must include help to remediate the effects of oppression while supporting attainment of basic needs.
- Domestic violence must be acknowledged as a form of traumatic stress for both adult survivors and exposed children, and therefore both parents and children need support in healing from these traumas.
- A key factor in treatment from trauma is the relationship between the Parent-Child Specialist and the family. Parent-Child Specialists must respect, honor, and acknowledge the feelings and perspectives of both the parents and the children they are working with, in a collaborative way.
Quotes from past participants
“PChIP helped me realize that I don’t have to be stuck in the past, blaming myself for what my kids have been through. I can be with them now, and we are freeing ourselves from the violence.”
“Mom Power helped me feel less alone, to make friends with other moms like me, and to help my children break out of their shells.”
“I have learned so much from this. I am a better mom, and my children and I have healed so much. I never thought we could get here.”
“Now I know how to talk to my kids about what happened, and how to have control of my own emotions so I can be there for them.”
“You helped me get through the child welfare stuff. I stopped being so scared of it, and realized I could turn it around and have some power.”
“I like it when you come to our house, because I know it’s always time to play!”
“I like talking about my feelings. I never knew that.”
“My mom can be safe for us now. We gotta be safe.”
“My son was very upset about his dad and what happened. He couldn’t talk about it and was acting out at school. Now he knows it’s ok to miss his dad and also be mad at him for what he did. I learned how my own feelings about the abuse affected him. We are very thankful for having PChIP services.”