HCRS has a team of dedicated, professional staff within our Children, Youth, and Families Division who provide comprehensive supports for families in need. These services are designed to meet families where they are at – in their community or within local schools – to assist each child and family to lead happy and healthy lives.
At HCRS we sometimes meet parents and kids during one of the worst weeks of their lives. A child is in crisis, no longer attending school because of cyber bullying, in a depression so deep she can’t get out of bed, anxiety so intense she doesn’t want to leave home. A teenager has a best friend who hung himself two years ago. He tells his teacher, “I’m thinking of killing myself. I tried pills and cutting. I’m thinking of trying again.”
Parents come to an HCRS office scared; their child is in a psychiatric hospital. They have heard from someone in the community that HCRS can help find resources and solutions when other efforts have failed.
HCRS staff mobilize around the unique needs of each child and family. They meet the parents, get releases signed, and start making calls to involved community providers – The Brattleboro Retreat, Department for Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health. All the while explaining to a tearful parent the complexities of our mental health system and that we will partner with them every step of the way.
A week later a Coordinated Services Planning meeting is held to plan the child’s reintegration back to family and the community, or to a higher level of care. A support team sits around a wooden conference room table at HCRS: an HCRS clinician, an HCRS case manager, supervisor, crisis team staff person, a school representative, DCF worker, and of course the family. The parents look stunned, beside them is a slender 16 year old with shoulder length, dyed bright red hair, scars visible on his wrist. He defines himself as gender fluent and says, “Shrinks have never helped.”
Everyone sits in this circle and shares concerns about safety, resources are identified at HCRS and in the community, and people express frustration, anger, and hope. Each team member is compassionate, stating reality with clarity and great kindness. Mostly folks listen, encourage family and child to identify strengths and goals, natural supports, complicating factors, and a wellness plan to go forward. The teenager identifies drumming lessons and volunteering at the Humane Society as a place to begin and agrees to have a community skills worker visit his home the next week, as part of the process of reaching his goals. At the end of the meeting the mother states, “There was something different about this meeting. I’m feeling like I am starting to see a way through this.”
HCRS staff are skilled team players dedicated to collaborating with family, children, and community providers to create plans and a path forward in even the most challenging circumstances, so that people’s lives get better day by day.