Youth and Relationship Navigation

A 16-year-old girl in Cafs’ residential care was experiencing significant mental health issues and was using some unhealthy strategies to cope with her situation, including self-harm, drugs and alcohol. She has a loving and supportive family however years of struggle with her, mental health had seen these relationships break down, especially with her mother. She was unable to cope at school and essentially had dropped out which resulted in her becoming involved in crime, including burglary.

She was depressed, bored, isolated, suicidal, disengaged from meaningful relationships and education. Her life seemed to be going downhill to the point where she was admitted to a youth psychiatric facility. The future seemed bleak.
After coming into Cafs’ care, the YARN program was asked to work with this young girl and her mother to see what could be done to release her from residential care and have her return home. At first, this seemed an almost impossible task! It was clear in talking to the mother and daughter that they really loved each other and wished that the daughter could come home, but given the myriad of problems neither held any hope that this could occur.

YARN worked intensively with both of them to develop a better understanding of their relationship and their history. An NMT assessment aided our psychologist to bring together the pieces of the puzzle while identifying clear recommendations for strategies that would help improve mental health, relationships and overall functioning.

The process was also really helpful in taking away some of the guilt, shame, and hopelessness that the family were feeling. The YARN program also provided education and support to the residential care house staff when they were unsure how to respond to this young girl’s self-harm and suicidal behaviour. By becoming part of the broader care team and working collaboratively with the case manager, child protection services, as well as with the family, collectively we were able to advocate for, educate, and support all involved to examine the underlying issues and needs of this young person. Initially, it was a challenge to find funding for this work, however, some creativity and persistence paid off and a funding stream was found.

It has been a joint effort but the intervention was successful in helping to create hope, and after five months, a targeted care package was developed for this young girl to return home. Since then she has spent positive time with her family at home; she has faced her criminal charges with dignity; she has successfully completed a detox program; she is on a waiting list for a drug rehabilitation program; and she and her family have new hope that a future together and a journey of healing is possible.

The YARN program has been instrumental in achieving these outcomes.