Like many struggling single parents in the community, Steve has faced a number of challenges and been to some dark places. With the help of CPS Family Services, this Fathers’ Day will feel more like a cause for celebration. This is his story.
Two years ago Steve’s partner left him and the family home. The relationship breakdown was hard enough, but being unemployed and just scraping by each fortnight meant the task of raising three boys; Xavier (8), Anthony (9) and Connor (13), was all the more difficult.
Steve’s problems didn’t end there. Xavier was diagnosed with Autism which further complicated matters. Not surprisingly, Steve felt overwhelmed and very distressed. Raising his boys, each with very different needs, began taking a toll on his own health and wellbeing.
Unsure how he could continue as a father and not knowing where to turn for support, Steve contacted ChildFIRST and was referred to CPS Family Services.
Foremost, Steve desperately needed appropriate supports and services for Xavier as well as strategies to educate his family, friends and other two sons regarding this diagnosis.
During his assessment, Steve also indicated he needed parenting support around setting appropriate routines and boundaries for all his sons, assistance to liaise with the boys’ schools, and support for himself to access education opportunities. Steve and his sons also needed emotional support to manage their distress at the family breakdown and the absence of the boys’ mother in their lives.
CPS’s Family Care Plan resulted in Xavier being enrolled and attending a specialised school. CPS actively supported Steve in facilitating this transition. The family also received a DHHS individual support package to ensure the family could meet Xavier’s special needs financially.
With CPS’s help all three boys found social and recreational activities to help build their confidence and increase their social networks. Connor in particular had a passion for sport which Steve, as a single parent, was unable to afford. CPS provided social inclusion support to enable to Connor to play basketball which he continues to enjoy immensely.
Connor and Anthony also received language and self-regulation strategies to manage strong emotions. Steve was also very pro-active in reinforcing the strategies at home. Some individual counselling was also provided to Steve and the boys to help them all process their grief around their partner/mother no longer being active in their lives.
Importantly for Steve, with CPS’s help he secured employment. Besides his income, Steve’s self-esteem also received a much needed boost by this part time job which entailed supporting others who were struggling.
By now the family started to see a brighter future, which was a credit to all of them.
Over the year in which CPS worked with Steve he always strived to meet his boys’ best interests and achieving the family’s goals. The three boys began to thrive and would look forward to their CPS case worker visits. They had developed a relationship of trust where they were able to talk about their situation and learn some strategies for managing their distress.
Steve showed great courage taking the first step to acknowledge he needed support, and then to find it. The family continues to do well and CPS’s door remains open should the family need further assistance.
The CPS Fathers & Relationships Program is a free service. To donate to our Fathers’ Day Appeal and help us to continue assisting Dads like Steve, please click here. Thankyou!
Three children, family violence, a marriage breakdown and an abusive and controlling ex-husband…
This is a first hand account of how CPS helped a mum navigate a turbulent time in her life to the point where she is now excited about what the future holds for her family.
“My life was hectic, stressful and a very emotional roller coaster ride when CPS first became involved in 2011.
At the time I had a 5, 2 and 1 year old. I was dealing with children who’d been exposed to family violence, a marriage breakdown, an abusive and controlling ex-husband – whilst learning the ropes of being a single parent, which had not been part of my life plan.
CPS supported me in my role as a parent, giving me the skills to better manage the children’s behaviour and how to look after myself too. CPS provided support in many ways – ideas, skills and alternative ways of handling the children’s disruptive, challenging and concerning behaviours.
When I first left my ex-husband, I was an angry person and shouted a lot at the three children. Since having CPS involved, I’ve managed to bring that anger and frustration down to a level where I’m more calm more often, less stressed and interact more with the children.
My family support worker has been coming on a regular basis to support both myself in my role as a parent, as well as working with the kids on various activities and addressing issues with the children in a fun, non-threatening way. This has helped all three children in their transition to being reintroduced to their dad after not seeing him for a long period of time, as well as being part of a single parent family and other life milestones they’ve achieved over four years.
CPS have also walked with me through a 2 year court process and have supported me in any way they could within their service provision. I have also had the opportunity to go to the aquarium, the Melbourne Zoo, the movies and Circus Oz.
It has been a long four year journey with CPS, and even when they could have closed my case, they stayed to ensure I really was okay on my own and that other services of support for both the children and myself were in place. I now feel equipped and ready to go on this journey of parenting – which can be hard at the best of times.
I’m thankful for the regular support that I have received over the years from my Family support worker and CPS in general. I am excited about what the future holds for my family. Without CPS and my other support networks, I would not be the better person I am today, and I am continually learning day by day how to be the best parent that I can possibly be.”
Louise* was just 6 years old when she first attended counselling after disclosing to her parents and the police that a member of her extended family had sexually abused her.
Louise’ behaviour had changed. She was experiencing nightmares. Understandably, Louise was very angry and struggled to concentrate.
Her mother Michelle* was also very distressed. Trust shattered, she felt overwhelming guilt for not knowing the abuse was occurring and not protecting her daughter. She started overcompensating for what happened and her feelings of guilt. Michelle ignored Louise’s bad behaviour (including violence to herself and the other siblings) and let her regularly stay home from school. With her traumatic experiences exacerbated by a lack of structure and boundaries, Louise’s behaviour escalated.
The CPS Therapeutic Services counsellor engaged to help Louise deal with her strong feelings of fear, anger, shame and helplessness used a range of tools. Sand tray play, drawing, painting, playing with the dolls house and using figurines and puppets enabled Louise to articulate and process her feelings and experiences.
I have learnt to be more happiness in my life and not to worry about the sad stage”.
It was vitally important for both Louise and Michelle to work through the legacy of sexual abuse with their counsellor to ensure it didn’t define them and their family moving forward – it was an awful experience that was now in the past and it need not continue to negatively impact their futures.
They attended counselling, both individually and together, for almost a year. Louise’s father was also regularly involved in feedback and family sessions.