Following a decade of increased rates of mental health disorders for youth, along with the effects of the global pandemic, the U.S. Surgeon General declared the child and adolescent mental health crisis a national emergency in December 2021. At Haynes Family of Programs and David & Margaret Youth and Family Services, we tackle this challenge head-on by offering mental health services to youth and families using a Wraparound model of care that offers individualized, holistic support.
Studies reveal that nearly 80% of children involved in child welfare suffer from mental health issues, which are often compounded by the traumas and instability of foster care. After entering the system at ages 5 and 7 due to neglect and drug exposure at home, a set of siblings were bounced around several placements and agencies for two years due to their intense behaviors.
In April of 2020, the siblings were referred to Hayne’s Wraparound Program with concerns of escalating behaviors such as fighting at school and home, angry outbursts, inappropriate sexualized behaviors, and tantrums. Their case was marked “urgent” due to the risk of losing another placement and forcing another transition.
The siblings engaged with the services and progress was being made when their current foster parent needed to move out of state and could no longer keep the siblings in her care. They were once again relocated to a new placement, in a new city, with a new school. Fortunately, the Wraparound team was able to follow them to their new placement, becoming a consistent factor in their lives and creating an opportunity to build strong relationships.
Like so many youths in foster care, they fell behind academically and socially due to frequent transitions. Neither was meeting their grade standards and making friends was a challenge, putting further stress on their sibling relationship. Working with our Wraparound team and Child and Family Services, they focused on practicing communication and social skills. Using a trauma-informed approach, our therapist was able to help them work through the loss of their mother.
Now, after two years in our Wraparound Program, the two have made one final transition to live with a family member nearby. Our team continues to work with them on their academic, social, and emotional progress and report improvements in independent play, using coping skills, self-regulating, and the ability to play sports with peers. Due to the success of this final transition and how much progress has been made, they are expected to graduate Wraparound services in the coming weeks.
The progress demonstrated by this sibling pair is a testament to the resilience of youth and their ability to adapt and overcome difficult scenarios when given the proper tools. Haynes Family of Programs and David & Margaret Youth and Family Services is proud to have supported over 150 children and families, including 42 foster children, with mental health services in the past year. Together, we can help youth and families manage their mental health in positive, sustainable ways.