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New Tweddle pilot delivers hope

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 13/02/17

When a baby or toddler is living in a chaotic, complex environment due to their parent’s mental health, they need someone to step in for them. So does the parent. It takes skilled and committed people to work with some of the most vulnerable families in our community. Tweddle employs a team of clinicians whose job it is to step in.

Louise Gawler has recently started at Tweddle to launch a pilot program, the Home Parenting Education Support program or HoPES. Louise, a Registered Nurse and Midwife with a BSc (Hons) in Child & Family Health, is currently completing a Masters of Infant Mental Health. She has worked with vulnerable families across Australia and overseas for over 25 years.

Louise spoke about the HoPES program. “HoPES sees extremely vulnerable families cared for in their own homes over an 8 week period. The families are referred from the Department of Health and Human Services with a priority on family preservation and reunification. Our role is to strengthen and nurture the parent child relationship, provide intensive parenting education and to connect the family to community.

Scenarios can include working alongside parents returning to their families from a custodial sentence or very young mums or dads establishing unsupervised time with their children. Support is also for families whose routines are impacting on very young children or where a parent has a history of family violence, alcohol, substance misuse or an intellectual disability” she said

The HoPES program works from a Family Partnership model. The family’s needs as a unit and as individuals are the focus of the program and their involvement at intake and discharge meetings is paramount to a successful outcome for them. This is where we identify their strengths, concerns goals and the capacities of each family member.

The program workers are dedicated to helping mums and dads gain insights into their incredibly important role as parents. The sharing of strategies and practical approaches to building skills and relationships is paramount to families getting the most out of the program.

Louise said that a clinician’s ability to read cues from babies and children experiencing fear, uncertainty, insecurity and attachment disruption was critical to the program, as was educating parents around the social and emotional development of their children.

“The earliest experiences shape a baby’s brain development and have a significant impact on that baby’s mental and emotional health for life. From pregnancy to toddlerhood is also a critical period in shaping a child’s communication, language development and the ability to regulate and express emotions” she said

“Without intensive, specialised in-home programs like HoPES, these young babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents may miss out on learning about building the connections and experiences that improve outcomes and change lives”

For more information about Tweddle’s range of parenting programs visit their website at www.tweddle.org.au

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