For Shanice*, aftercare services made all the difference for her family.

St. Mary’s Home for Children serves hundreds of children every year but families need more to succeed when their child graduates from our residential services. To ensure success, we offer a wrap-around aftercare program for the entire family which often makes the difference in how well a child does when they leave St. Mary’s.

Children living in our psychiatric treatment residential program receive a 6-month course of aftercare when they leave. This team approach includes a family therapist, a parent partner who works with the parent(s), and family liaisons who work with the child.

“They taught me so much,” Shanice said. “There are a lot of things I didn’t know. How to analyze myself. Knowing that if I feel a certain way, my kids can feel a certain way. It brought me to realize that dealing with my own trauma is something I need to do.”

Rachel Desrosiers, family therapist, explained why it can be so difficult for parents when their child experiences a trauma:

“Mom didn’t have the tools to respond in a trauma-informed way. Her [child] didn’t have the tools to respond,” Rachel said. “But Mom was able to implement the advice we gave, both for herself and her child, which led to a great outcome.”

St. Mary’s aftercare services follow the principles of a national program called the Building Bridges Initiative. This initiative is a whole-family approach designed to help families and youth who receive residential intervention to realize positive outcomes after discharge, which include: outcomes such as decreased readmission to congregate care, improved family relationships, home stability, and successfully living in the community.

Describing St. Mary’s as a “safety net” – a place her child felt safest after experiencing trauma, Shanice appreciated St. Mary’s extensive aftercare program.

“Each of us had our own [staff] person and a [staff] person together for the whole family,” Shanice said. “I worked with them to come up with strategies to use with my kids. Communication was a plus. We always communicated.”

*Name changed for privacy.