BY DEVELOPING THEIR PHYSICAL ABILITIES AND OVERCOMING LIMITATIONS, children gain a positive perspective about themselves and their world. Read about some of our incredible students and their success stories below.
The children I have met through the years are so courageous, resilient and brave that I find them inspiring.
Margaret Hansen, Day Treatment Services, Pre-school 2 classroom
He was only three years old, but Thomas* knew what hunger felt like. Neglected by his parents, he was often left alone, unwashed, with little food and dirty clothes. When the Missouri Children’s Division referred him to The Children’s Place, life began to change for Thomas.
When Thomas arrived at The Children’s Place, he was living with relatives who were trying to help him but finding it very difficult. He did not express affection and was aggressive, yelling and hitting. Sad and scared, tantrums and tears were frequent events. Sometimes he wet his bed. Due to significant developmental delays and behavioral issues, he was enrolled in the agency’s Day Treatment Services program.
After enrollment, Thomas adjusted to the classroom routine. For many children, the daily classroom routine is the first time they have ever had a healthy pattern to their day. Thomas was provided with a full battery of services: early childhood education, individual therapy, speech/language therapy and occupational therapy. As the weeks went by, his therapists and teachers began to see a happier, more successful little boy emerge. He started to actively participate in classroom activities and was a quick learner. His therapist was pleased at the trust he showed in her as she helped him work through his emotional and behavioral issues.
After 13 months, Thomas had achieved the goals set out for him and was above average for his age in cognitive and social/emotional skills. He had more self-confidence, had become a leader in his class, and was ready to enroll in a mainstream preschool program.
The success of The Children’s Place services is demonstrated in Thomas’ story and the stories of so many children like him. The agency is uniquely qualified to provide the specialized services and evidence-based treatments these traumatized young children need to overcome their horrific experiences. With the opportunity to heal and grow, young lives like Thomas’ are changed forever and bright new vistas open up for their futures.
*Note: All names have been changed to conceal their identity.
Lana & Seth
Three-and-a-half year-old Lana* and her five-year-old brother Seth* had been referred to The Children’s Place because they had been sexually abused. Lana’s father, Seth’s stepfather, had molested him, and Seth had then molested Lana. Both children had been placed in foster homes and their mother, who had been in a state of denial about the abuse, was under strict orders to keep the children away from her husband during their visitations with her. After his initial assessments, it was determined that Seth required a residential treatment program due to his aggressive behaviors.
In the early weeks after her enrollment, Lana was defiant – lashing out, kicking, screaming and biting those around her. She was extremely non-compliant, resisting her teachers and therapist. However, Lana was very bright, and in a nurturing environment with the professional help she needed, she began to make progress. Working with a TCP therapist and teachers, Lana learned what “safe touch” was and how not to allow others to control her body or invade her personal space. Her therapist helped her with the identification of her feelings, how to appropriately express them and act on them, how and when to ask for help from an adult. Seven months into her program services, Lana was happy to be reunited with her mother. Lana’s therapist and teachers also had been working with her mother who was anxious to support Lana’s healing.
Ten months after coming to The Children’s Place, Lana had achieved her treatment plan goals and educational objectives and was ready to be discharged. Her behavior clearly had changed. She smiled often, was cheerful with classmates and adults, and had become a positive leader in her classroom. Lana was emotionally and behaviorally ready to move forward and be enrolled in a mainstream child care program.
*Not their real names
Picture a tense little boy, out of control and unhappy; a troubled mother, tired and often angry; and a father frustrated at the loss of a peaceful family life. Living in a nice house in a desirable area of Kansas City, they could easily be your next-door neighbors and yet they felt as if they were living in a war zone.
Five-year-old Jacob* had become aggressive, flying into rages, yelling and shrieking. A frequent target of his mean behavior, his two-year-old sister was afraid of him. At The Children’s Place, his mother met with one of our Child and Family Therapists for the first time, expressing her sense of defeat as a parent. At her wit’s end and feeling out of control, she said she loved her son but often she didn’t like him.
For parents struggling with young children like Jacob, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a treatment that has proven to be very successful in developing the parent-child bond and remediating the child’s negative behaviors. Many of these children come to therapy because of stress or traumatic events that they have experienced. Helping parents learn new ways to interact with their child is extremely effective in helping their child heal.
The therapist worked with both Jacob and his mother for 14 weeks of PCIT.
Each week, she would observe Jacob and his mother playing and would coach his mother, helping her develop her parenting skills and confidence as she interacted with her son. This therapy helps caregivers manage their child’s behaviors in real-world settings. At the conclusion of therapy, Jacob’s aggressive behaviors were significantly reduced and he had made great strides in his behavior at home. His mother had learned effective new skills. She no longer felt the need to spank Jacob and was finally enjoying the relationship she had with her son. As her husband commented at the final session, “Life at home is so different now. Jacob is 85% better…and Mom is 100% better!”
*Not his real name
Sophia & Roberto
While success seems to be gauged with greatness for many, it’s measured in small strides, day by day, with incremental gains at The Children’s Place.
For siblings Sophia and Roberto*, just being able to talk to their therapist was tough. Four-year-old Sophia and three-year-old Roberto came to The Children’s Place after witnessing and enduring domestic violence. Their mother’s boyfriend had physically and emotionally abused her and the children. The boyfriend went to jail, but left two small children struggling with the damage he had inflicted on them emotionally and developmentally.
The children were referred to the Day Treatment Services program. In the beginning, they were very guarded, did not engage easily and had trust and anger issues. Sophia had borne the brunt of more physical abuse. She had many healed injuries on her little body and was particularly non-responsive when she first arrived.
Day by day, staff worked to earn their trust. Progress was very slow. TCP therapist and teachers began to break through the emotional walls they had built to survive their abusive environment. Both sister and brother began to be more open, verbal, and expressive of their needs. Sophia even began to be mischievous, playing little tricks on her therapist and then laughing when she “got her.”
So, how do you gauge success at The Children’s Place? Every solemn stare that becomes a smile, every guarded eye that becomes bright and open, every small mouth that goes from silent to chatty, every tear that turns into a giggle. All these small daily gains add up to changed lives with new opportunity for happy futures —the biggest win of all.
*Not their real names