Strengthening Families case study

This case study outlines how the Strengthening Families process helped a real whānau.

9-year-old Allan was suspended from school after repeated incidents of verbal and physical violence, despite having a full-time teacher's aide for the past year. Allan was also out of control at home and had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) some years before.

Several agencies were involved with the family. Allan was placed in emergency short-term care when things fell apart at home and, as the situation got worse, institutional care seemed the most likely outcome.

As a trial of the Strengthening Families strategy, the Dunedin CYFS Youth and Community Team initiated a coordinated interagency approach to work with Allan and his family.

Key players such as health, education and welfare were identified. A holistic assessment of issues was completed with strong input from the family and possible options were explored.

A multiagency/family meeting was held and both good and bad information was shared. There was a clear focus on issues and possible solutions. They created an action plan that was positive and detailed.

It was decided that the Ministry of Health would continue to provide counseling for Allan and include the whole family.

The Ministry of Education found a new school for Allan and provided the resourcing for a teacher's aide skilled in restraint and in communication with young people.

Child Youth and Family supplied 'trackers' for Allan and one of his brothers. They also provided funding to create a safe, time-out space at school, took the lead role in case coordination, which included arranging frequent family support meetings, and supplied transport for Allan and his teacher's aide to school for the first critical week.

After one term the results were outstanding.

The teacher's aide and guidance support was withdrawn as Allan was totally re-integrated, learning well, doing his homework and smiling. His stress levels had also dropped at home.

Good analysis, creative planning, sound professional relationships and an interagency/family sense of partnership produced a plan that went a long way to help Allan and his family regain their dignity and independence.

The family is very positive about the process, which was both inclusive and supportive of their needs. In the words of Allan's parents “everybody pulled together as a team and was there to find solutions – not to blame.”

Published: June 28, 2022