Karla, a mother of four young children, including an infant, was frustrated and at the end of her rope when her pre-kindergarten son, Yeysiom's, school principal at Henry J. Winters School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, referred her to Boys Town New England's In-Home Family Services (IHFS) Program. The IHFS program is one of the services provided by the LIFT program offered in seven schools in Pawtucket. Through the program, teachers and parents learn strategies designed to improve positive behaviors, by using common language to ensure that everyone understands, and all are on the same page about the child's behavior.
Karla was concerned about Yeysiom's development. He would scream and be disruptive in the classroom and his explosive behavior resulted in him hitting the other children. Wendy Bravo, a Boys Town In-Home Family Services Consultant, completed Karla's intake, where it was clear that the single mom needed assistance in caring for her three-week-old baby and a behaviorally challenged son, who was regularly being sent home from school. “It was horrible. I was extremely overwhelmed taking care of the kids, plus a newborn, with no support," said Karla.
Wendy informed Karla about the Women and Infants Day Hospital and made the referral. “Not only did Wendy help me with my children's behaviors, but she also linked me to the Day In Program at Women and Infants. It helped me get my mind clear, where I was able to get a diagnosis and medication."
Once Karla felt well enough to help her children, Wendy worked with her on a safety plan for her son, including recognizing the warning signs before volatile behavior starts. Coping skills for Yeysiom included a calm down kit that contained fidgets, a sand timer, and a treasure box. The service plan Wendy created also included effective praise, consequences for positive and negative behaviors, and age-appropriate chore charts for Yeysiom and the older two children in the home. “Wendy provided me with strategies for all four of my kids. There have always been rules in the house, but I would've never thought of using chore charts or a reward system."
“Wendy always checked in on me and the kids if I cancelled, or if she had to cancel. We have always had a good relationship and she would interact well with the kids when they were home during her visits," said Karla. “Boys Town not only helped my kids, but also helped me, and could help any other parent. I can apply what I learned moving forward. Boys Town taught me things I never tried before. I am feeling less stressed and I'm proud because I even stopped smoking. I appreciate everything Wendy did for us."
“Karla was unemployed, and we worked on identifying her goals. She now has a full-time job working from home, which enables her to continue to meet the needs of her family," said Wendy. “She is so much more confident in her parenting now and she realized that the positive parenting strategies acquired through In-Home Family services do work, when used consistently and when a parent remains calm."
“One of the most rewarding moments of working with Karla and her family was seeing her face light up when she utilized the skill of corrective teaching and realized that it worked with Yeysiom," said Wendy. “That breakthrough made me most proud of Karla, realizing that she can do this hard work of parenting four children as a single mom. She knows that behaviors are not going to be perfect, but improvement is the goal, and that is what we accomplished working together. It's progress not perfection."
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