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Case Study 1

This family consists of a single mother, and three children aged 6, 4 and 2.  The eldest child has a physical disability and congenital illness requiring regular trips to Sydney for assessment and treatment.

The Mother suffers from depression and lacks confidence, with a very low self esteem. She is still grieving for her own mother who had died 1 year earlier.

The Family is extremely isolated, with no family support.  The children’s father is not in contact.  There is limited phone contact with the mother’s father (not living in area) and no communication with 3 siblings (also not in this area).

The eldest child is at school and middle child at pre-school.  They have no car so the mother reliant on other parents, bus and/or taxi for transport, so the family is generally at home.

There is a difficulty for the mother in discussing issues relating to her eldest child with doctors and teachers and her focus and concern is understandable honed to the higher needs child.

A Home-Start volunteer was linked to the family two and a half years ago.  Through commitment to regular visiting, practical support and the use of humour, the volunteer established strong and open relationship with mother and has become an important “other adult” in the lives of the children, helping focus on needs of each individual

Quickly recognizing the need to reduce the family’s isolation, almost every visit has involved taking the family out to community events, picnics, parks, library sessions, museums, movies or meals.  Whenever possible the volunteer has assisted with transport to medical appointments/shopping expeditions and supervision of the younger children.

By focusing on the strengths of the family, offering encouragement and providing opportunities for fun, the volunteer boosted the confidence of the mother to the point where she has -

  • Reconnected and established good relationships with her father and siblings
  • Organised child care and undertaken a TAFE course
  • Established a relationship with a new partner which appears to be having a positive impact for both mother and children
  • Shown increasing confidence in her ability to communicate with professionals
  • Begun to discuss with the volunteer employment options for next year when the youngest child starts school
  • Considered the possibility of looking for more suitable housing, even if it involves the children moving school

As there have been no other services involved with this family, it seems apparent that the many and evident positive changes and opportunities for growth experienced by this family can be attributed to the regular contact, support and intervention offered by the Home-Start volunteer.