Although I enjoy regular contact with any number of officials at the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), it is rare that I get a direct request for assistance regarding a child being referred to our Residential Treatment Services. But sure enough, there was a plea to give immediate and special consideration for an 11-year-old boy. The child had been in multiple foster homes and each placement ended with a psychiatric hospitalization and foster parents feeling overwhelmed and tentative. The child’s family was not in a position to receive the child and, therefore, not an immediate resource for him. Having returned from a brief hospitalization, this young boy now sat at the DCFS emergency office with no clear indication of a long-term plan for treatment.
As we reviewed the admissions packet, there was a fair amount of concern for the likelihood of success. The team discussed the case in length and during this time the conversation shifted; slowly each member of the group was able to indicate some hope that we could be effective. So in spite of the odds, we approved the child for admission to the great relief of DCFS.
This is the first time that this young boy would be in a setting like ours and to no one’s surprise he did not react well initially. As promised, I looked in on him soon after he arrived and found four staff members all engaged at trying to settle him down and reassure him that he would be safe. I left the encounter wondering whether we had made the right decision and concerned that perhaps we could not effectively care for him. Periodically, I checked my e-mails to see if there were any incident reports that might indicate an escalation in his behavior and I was prepared to hear that he had been hospitalized again. But as the old saying goes, “No news is good news!”
A few days had pass so I asked about him hoping that all was well. Aside from his first few hours of anxiously assessing his situation, this young boy had begun to interact with his cottage mates and was allowing staff to engage him. He was happy with his new bedroom, thrilled with the goodies in his welcome bag, and especially excited about getting in the pool. From combative and anxious, he was now engaged and playful.
I’m sure the euphoria of these first few days will wane soon and that we will confront a number of challenges as we get this young boy on a path to a stable life. I could not help, but feel pleased that we were able to receive this child and begin the process of restoring hope for him.
We are so fortunate to have an extraordinary staff, well equipped to provide the care that will make all the difference in the success for this boy and his family. At the end of the day, this is what Hillsides is all about. A month from now we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of our founding. Well over 100,000 children have been served in this century, all of them vulnerable and desperate for the kind of care that makes a lasting change. Follow the blog as I provide you with updates on this newest resident and join with us as we celebrate our centennial on September 15.