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Case Study 2

This family consists of a single parent mother with four children aged, 5, 4, 2 and a baby.  The Mother recovering from 2 relationships in which she was a victim of domestic violence. The  Father of the children is living in another state.  The Mother is suffering from depression, and low self esteem

The Mother’s mother (also suffering from chronic depression) and step-father are also living in the same town but the relationship is poor and there is little contact or support.

The two elder children have been identified with speech problems and aggressive behaviour, possible due to having lived in the situation of domestic violence.  The Mother is struggling with parenting four young children alone, feels isolated and often let down by neighbours/unreliable friends.

A Volunteer was linked to the family two years ago and the volunteer quickly established a relationship of trust and openness in which the mother was happy to identify the issues with which she was having difficulty.

Firstly,  the volunteer modelled for the family the benefits of establishing a routine. Each visit was divided into segments: play activities with the children, morning tea, time to spend listening to the mother and then finally time spent developing a plan for the following week.  Gradually the establishment of routines began to flow through the families everyday life.  Mealtimes, homework, TV viewing became more regulated and the mother reported that the children were going to bed at a set time and staying in their beds throughout the night.  Thus they were rested in the morning and able to get ready for school and playgroup in an orderly manner, and the eldest child’s behaviour and performance at school were constantly improving as a consequence of this structure.

Similarly the volunteer and mother started to work together on family nutrition and the volunteer, by sharing recipes and preparing food with the mother encouraged her to have confidence in her new skills.

The volunteer then started walking to school with the family (instead of having the children picked up and dropped off by other parents) thus assisting them to get out of the house, undertake some exercise and fresh air and connect with other families in the area.  Subsequent changes include:

  • The children have another important and caring adult in their lives
  • The mother has lost unwanted weight and begun to take more interest in her self-care.
  • This parent is now a leader with the school parent body.
  • The relationship with her mother and stepfather has been re-established and they are now connected with the whole family, supporting one another and interacting with the children.
  • The mother is able to borrow her parents’ car and the volunteer is currently assisting the mother to get a Driver’s License.
  • The marked improvement in the children’s performance at school, particularly their reading, has been noted by their teachers.
  • Speech problems have to a large extent been resolved.
  • The large no of pets owned by the family has been reduced thus lowering feeding costs and improving condition for those animals remaining.
  • The mother has indicated that when the youngest child starts school she would like to undertake some welfare training/education and the volunteer is encouraging her to identify possible courses

This Home-Start volunteer, through her friendship, practical support, modelling and absolute belief in this family has walked beside them and enabled them to make an enormous number of significant changes,  in fact, an absolute shift in the entire family’s well-being.

Although the family has also had assistance from a Families NSW Supported Playgroup, the coordinator of this program has acknowledged the extraordinary impact of Home-Start on this now well-functioning family.