Methodist Children’s Home staff are working together to share knowledge in order to better serve children, youth and families. Staff from MCH Family Outreach in Waco are currently leading a Circle of Security (COS) parenting course for home parents from the MCH Boys Ranch to provide them with more insight and understanding as they care for youth in the residential program.
“This is an effort to better support our direct care staff and give them more tools to help them be more effective,” explained Moe Dozier, vice president for programs. “It also includes components of self-care which will be helpful for staff.”
Dozier said the idea to train residential staff in COS came about last fall when they identified that residential caregivers deal with a lot of the same issues parents do. They first shared the model of care with unit managers. Home parents from the Boys Ranch began the training in December 2017, and classes for Waco campus direct care staff will commence in 2018.
MCH Family Outreach began implementing COS in 2016 as an additional parenting education model. The model includes an eight-week curriculum based on attachment theory and research that shows “secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure.”
In the COS model, parents/caregivers are shown that as children go out and explore the world around them, parents/caregivers can provide them with encouragement and a secure base or safe haven for when they return to them. The model helps parents/caregivers understand the child’s emotions and be there to support them by providing comfort, protection and help in dealing with their feelings.
COS also helps parents/caregivers recognize their own triggers that make them feel unable to deal with a situation and provides them with tools to overcome these triggers in order to handle the child’s needs.
“Our hope in sharing COS with residential and ranch staff is to create a space for staff to reflect on their caregiving experiences, become more attuned to the attachment needs we all have and further support the utilization of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI),” said Brooke Davilla, director of MCH Family Outreach in Waco.
“As an agency we are fortunate to be exposed to many quality trainings and want to ensure that we maximize those opportunities by sharing with any staff who would benefit,” Davilla said. “We have greatly enjoyed the experience of building relationships across our MCH departments.”
Home parents have shared positive feedback about the classes and collaboration with MCH Family Outreach staff.
“I really enjoyed doing the activity that helped us identify and relate to things from our childhood and how they affected us growing up and still today,” said Vivian Thomas, home parent at the Boys Ranch. “The activity brought to the forefront some issues which definitely helps me relate to everyday emotions I see within the youth we work with.”
Waco case managers Ana Chatham and Sara Beth Stoltzfus are leading the biweekly classes to coordinate with the home parents’ weekly schedule.
“It has been a wonderful experience working with the ranch staff,” Stoltzfus said. “They add new depth and meaning to this curriculum. I can tell they are already terrific home parents but it appears that the class has still been a beneficial time of reflection and unique way to discuss the needs of the kids in our care.”