CCHO is focused on filling the gap in services between a child’s stay on campus and their step-down placement to a foster, adopted or biological family. Our residential team invests much time and effort into helping these kids heal and grow. Preparing their next caregivers/environments for life with these youth after residential trauma treatment is equally important for long-term success. Emily Frazier, LISW-S, clinical director of our children’s residential center, shares our plan.
On average, residents spend six to nine months of their traumatized lives with us, developing connections (sometimes for the very first time). They now feel safe and wanted. They know what to expect and have become equipped to resolve past trauma and use new skills. Previously, when it was time for a child to leave us upon program completion, we said our prayerful goodbyes and sent them off into the next season of their lives.
We saw a need to better prepare the resident for the family and the family for the resident. The good news is that CCHO has created a new position of integration therapist to improve transition plans for our youth for greater understanding for the new caregivers and greater opportunity for the resident to maintain and increase their progress. Each cottage will have an integration therapist to work with the residents of that cottage. They will work closely with their cottage’s clinical and operational teams.
Here’s how. The integration therapist role has several parts.
1. The integration therapist engages biological/kinship families early on in the treatment of residents. This connection brings them alongside the treatment process of their child. Integration therapy provides psychoeducation, explores communication attachment patterns and considers how environmental factors can help provide long-term success. Often, biological/kinship parents are managing their own trauma experiences. This role helps to support them as they work through their own issues.
2. The integration therapist also provides support for foster families. If the plan is for a resident to step down to a foster home, this role helps prepare the child for their new family and helps to prepare the family for the cool kid we’ve gotten to know at CCHO. We provide a framework for what we know works and doesn’t work with the specific kiddo. We help transfer the connections/attachments that they have experienced to their new home. We facilitate transition visitation/planning.
3. This role helps to integrate Trust-Based Relationship Intervention (TBRI) techniques into our cottage environments and then train next-step families to work with and connect to kids from hard places. At CCHO, our kids spend six to nine months with these connecting, correcting and empowering TBRI principals, so it’s vital that their step-down families use these same strategies, when able, to support them.
4. This role also provides community integration and aftercare services for our resident alums and their families. When residents complete their programs and step down to a family setting, we will continue to support them and their foster/adoptive/biological family by providing home visits, check-ins and checkups. We will help problem-solve issues that might arise as well as help link the child and family to resources in their communities; anything from counseling to mentors to helping to find programs/services that speak to a kid’s spark or interests (music, sports, theater, etc.). This support is maintained for a year following discharge.
This program exceeds the mandates of the Family First Act. CCHO is rolling out this program well before the mandated deadlines because of the importance of including families in the treatment process and providing a better support system for our kids. The expansion of this service is truly helping us to transform lives, families and communities as well as helping more people experience their worth in Christ.
We are grateful for your prayers as we continually seek to improve our services for the highest good of those we serve.