The Twins Success Story

The Twins

The twins were placed in foster care after being removed by Child Protective Services due to parental substance abuse and neglect. They were small toddlers, homeless and had been eating out of dumpsters. After several placements the twins found the Family as foster parents. The twins’ foster parents were having difficulty with the boys’ aggressive and tantrum behaviors. Although they loved the boys and hoped that they could eventually adopt them, they desperately needed help. Foster dad said, “I just want them to express themselves more and be able to be children. I want them to be less scared and to be able to be kids.” They came to Child Haven.

Child Haven clinicians have unusually long tenures with the organization. Such long term relationships are helpful when children return to Child Haven, as is the case with the twins.

The clinician knew the boys when they were younger. She remembered they would not talk much and had pacifiers in their mouth much of the time before they turned two. Child Haven helped the parents understand what such behavior in young children meant. She taught the foster parents about typical development for young children. The clinicians helped the foster parents understand how the twin’s experience of being removed from their biological mother and placed in multiple foster placements caused behaviors in the twins, resulting in the aggressive and tantrum behavior. The parents learned skills to move the boys through the episodes and reduce incidences of the aggressive behavior. The boys learned to express their feelings.

The once very quiet boys are now talking and very verbal. They talk about their feelings and even sing! Their parent’s favorite group is the Police and one twin sang “Roxanne” for his clinician in one session – she reports, “it was hard not to laugh as it was too cute!!” Today, thanks to Child Haven they are very typical four year old boys. They were adopted by their foster parents.

Child Haven helped the boys to regain their developmental momentum and get back on track. No one would know their history by looking at these two handsome well-adjusted boys. Unfortunately, this is not the case for thousands of other children who lack the intervention that Child Haven provides, who grow up unable to communicate their feelings and connect with others and have healthy adult relationships. Instead, they sink into a life of isolation and mental difficulties that predisposes them to violence, criminal behaviors and addiction.

When asked her hopes for a conversation with the twins at 18, the clinician said, “I would hope they would say “Thank you for helping me to learn how to express feelings verbally. It’s really helped me with my relationships…. but that’s asking a lot for a teen.”

Child Haven Relies on Volunteers to Help Keep the Program Alive

Child Haven Relies on Volunteers to Help Keep the Program Alive

Alma Vega

Volunteer Profile:  Alma Vega

In 2010, Alma Vega and her sister Karina knocked on our door and asked if there was anything they could do to help at Child Haven.  Prior to this time, Child Haven had rarely relied on help from volunteers due to the sensitive nature of the work performed.  At first the staff expressed concern, primarily regarding confidentiality and the appropriateness of having young adults in the facility during operating hours.  However, something in their request made us say “yes”.  We agreed to limit their interaction with clients and implemented several security protocols to prohibit access to records.  We began by having them clean toys, sort donations and assist clinicians with organizing therapeutic materials.  It did not take long before Alma and Karina gained the trust and respect of every clinician at Child Haven.

The girls began volunteering twice a week after school.  They quickly learned and picked up on the special needs and requirements of the therapists.  Rather than assisting the therapists, they began tackling projects such as organizing Child Haven’s Art Therapy Room.  They set up the children’s materials, labeling baskets and sorting supplies consistent with Art Therapy protocols.  They organized the therapist cupboards ensuring that their tools and equipment were easily accessible to therapists but out of reach of the children.  They continueed to follow up with the Art Therapy Room on a regular basis to ensure that items are replaced correctly and to initiate orders for additional supplies.

Alma walks to Child Haven after school and quickly jumps in to her routine.   She checks with the clinicians to see if they need any special help and if so adeptly attends to their requests, (i.e. organizing the Infant room, re-stocking Sand Therapy trays, sorting and cleaning make-believe and dress-up toys, preparing materials for the divorcing families program, etc.)  When those special tasks are complete, Alma attends to her regular duties including preparing blank charts for new clients, copying assessment and other forms, restocking informational brochures, and sorting, organizing and cleaning therapeutic toys and equipment.

Alma also maintains Child Haven’s donation closet.  Donations of children’s clothing and toys are continuously dropped at our doors. Alma sorts the donations to determine whether they are appropriate to be used by Child Haven clinicians for therapy, to be passes through as donations to our clinicians or if the item(s) should be given to other local charities where it would be more appropriate.  Maintaining the donation closet has always been a challenge for Child Haven staff.  Alma has taken away that challenge and allows staff to focus on the children.

Both Alma and Karina have proven themselves time and again as wonderful young ladies with quiet passion, strong ethics, sincerity, reliance and aspiration.  Karina is now working full time and going to school at Solano Community College.  Alma was just accepted to Chico State.  Both girls are majoring in Psychology.

If you would like to help in any of the following areas, please contact us!

  • Clerical support
  • Property maintenance
  • Fundraising events
  • Other

Holiday Activities for Child Haven Families

thCARNS6EYChild Haven staff have a bit different approach to working with our families during the holidays.  Rather than hosting a “party” for our child clients on a single day, we create a holiday themed therapeutic session during the holiday season.  During this special session, our clients’ families (bio and/or foster parents and siblings) are asked to attend as well.  The session is designed to help the families focus on the importance and benefits of family time during the often stressful holiday season and to strengthen the family unit.

Together the therapist, child, and family, in a modestly decorated, holiday themed room make items that can be taken home to help decorate for the holidays (Christmas or Hanukah as appropriate). They play games, eat health holiday style snacks and share heart-warming stories. The therapist discusses the benefits of creating special memories and focusing on activities that help form strong attachments and bonds within the family.  They also discuss stressors often triggered by the holidays and help develop coping models for the adults and children to use.

 

Each family leaves with a basket (or box) filled with activities that they are encouraged to partake in at home. The therapist pre-packages the family gift so they it can be tailored to meet the developmental ages of the children in the household.  Baskets and activities are brought to families with limited transportation or who require services in their home or other alternative locations.

Goal

To nurture and strengthen family relationships by helping families in crisis focus on the importance of spending time together.

Who

Approximately 150 children from 130 families will be treated during the month of December 2013. It is estimated that 53% will be boys, 47% girls, 110 ages Birth – 5; 30 age 6 – 10 and 10 age 11 – 17.

Desired Outcomes

  •             Create lifelong positive memories
  •             Strengthen child/parent attachment
  •             Reduce the stress of the holidays
  •             Relieve some economic concerns

 

We Need Your Help

The following donations are need so that Child Haven can ensure that each child and their family have a special Holiday  Memory.

Items Requested for Donation

Toys/Activities for Families with Children ages 3-17

  • Family Board Games
  • Books
  • Puzzles (25 pieces or less)
  • Checkers/Chess Games/ Cards Games
  • Building Blocks
  • Arts and Craft Materials
  • Crayons/Markers/Stencils
  • Playdough & Molds
  • Children’s Scissors
  • Construction Paper
  • Cars/Dolls
  • Logos/Duplos
  • Mr & Mrs Potato Head
  • Flashlights
  • Beading Kits

 

Toys/Activities for Families with Infants or Young Toddlers

  • Sensory or Textured Balls
  • Board Books
  • Photo Albums (child friendly)
  • Mirrors (child friendly)

 

Materials for Family Projects

  • Soup in a Jar
  • Pie in a Jar
  • Cookie Mix
  • Books or Calendars that provide “thoughts or inspirations for the day”

 

Other

  • Cash Donations or Gift Cards to WalMart or grocery or novelty item stores will allow staff to purchase items to complete the boxes.

 

Items for Therapy Session

  • Craft supplies for making Christmas and Hanukah decorations (construction paper, glue sticks. Pipe cleaners, pony beads, etc)
  • Apple Cider
  • Health Holiday Snacks (Apples with caramel, wraps, cheese, crackers, grapes, etc.)
© Copyright Child Haven, Inc. | Fairfield, California | All Rights Reserved child-haven.org | Website Works by SafeHouse Web