In 1996, two social workers met while working at a St Louis residential treatment facility. One was newly out of graduate school, looking for employment that fit her passion, and the other had been in the field for over 20 years and was looking to employ a social worker who was passionate and a good fit. An alliance was formed, and a lifelong friendship was born. What was obvious to both was if an adoptive child was placed in a residential program, they often lingered there for too long. This was not the fault of the child as they were the victims of abuse and responded with the adaptive responses that serve to keep them alive in often violent home situations. Nor was it the fault of their ill-prepared ‘new’ parents, who had little information, training, or support services to take on the task of parenting a child with extreme behaviors. It was a system failure…..
Not much has changed over the years as residential treatment is often the only option adoptive parents or foster care case workers have when a child victim presents with behaviors the adults do not know how to manage. Thankfully, much has been learned. It has been the lifelong commitment to these children of abuse and the families that claim them as theirs that inspired the formation of Familyworks, Inc. by the same two social workers, both older, hopefully wiser, and still learning.