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WHAT CHILDREN NEED: Support & Education Services for Children and Youth. Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative ITV Presentation: 9/25 & 10/1, 2008 Presented by: Betty Conger LMSW CPC-R Henry Ford Behavioral Health Maplegrove Children & Family Program Coordinator.

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what children need support education services for children and youth
WHAT CHILDREN NEED:Support & Education Services for Children and Youth

Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative

ITV Presentation: 9/25 & 10/1, 2008

Presented by: Betty Conger LMSW CPC-R

Henry Ford Behavioral Health

Maplegrove Children & Family Program Coordinator

maplegrove history of service for children families
Maplegrove History of Service for Children & Families
  • FREE Children’s Program established in 1990
  • Adjunct to treatment – community participation
  • Various settings / partnerships
  • Volunteer staffed
  • Children’s Program Parent Component added in 1993
  • Teen Component added in 2005
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program Family Education & Support Program added in 2005
workshop objectives
Workshop Objectives

To identify:

  • Rationale for intervening with families affected by “substance abuse”
  • Goals of intervention
  • Intervention strategies & preferred strategy
  • Curriculum based alternative: key messages
experience has taught us
Experience has taught us…
  • Need all systems to address alcohol/drug problems and impact on families
  • Each system contributes to solution
  • Systems help and support each other
addiction premise
Addiction Premise
  • Although environmental and social factors will influence the progression and expression of the disease, they are not in any sense causes of addictive drinking.
  • Alcoholism is caused by biochemical and neurophysiological abnormalities that are passed down from one generation to the next or in some cases acquired through heavy or prolonged drinking

Genetic Risk

  • Prevalence rate of alcoholism is 3-4 times higher when a first degree relative is alcoholic
  • Adoption does not eliminate genetic risk
  • Low level of response to alcohol may explain relationship between family history and alcohol problems
  • ** Those who begin use at age 15 are 3 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence, and are harder to treat, than those who begin drinking at the age of 21.

Environmental Impact

  • Living in families with abuse or addiction stressful for all in family:
  • Unhealthy ways to communicate and cope
  • Rules (don’t talk, trust, feel) isolate members
  • Role modeling of alcohol and drug use.
  • Permissive attitudes toward alcohol and drug use.

Need for Education & Support Services

  • Numbers are great: estimated that 1/5 children live with one or more adults who abuse substances.
  • Many children live with chronic stress, confusion, fear, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
  • Family environment affects development of children and youth.
  • COA’s most likely to be tomorrow’s clients in mental health or addiction treatment, the juvenile justice system and out of home placements.

Survival Patterns: Costly to Health & Well-Being

  • Defenses are like “ARMOR”
  • May become life-long coping skills
  • May interfere with opportunities and healthy relationships
  • May increase likelihood of becoming CD
why prevent intervene
Why Prevent & Intervene?
  • Treatment outcomes improve
  • Relapse Prevention
  • To improve the health — mental and physical of the entire family
  • To break the cycle of substance abuse and associated stigma & shame
  • Family recovery is enhanced: Potential impact on society problems
children s issues
Children’s Issues
  • Worry about health of parent
  • Being “upset” about unpredictable and inconsistent behavior and lack of support from others
  • Worry about fights and arguments in family
  • Being scared and upset by possibility of violence, inappropriate sexual and/or criminal behavior
  • Being disappointed by broken promises and feeling unloved
common feelings
I feel ashamed

I can’t talk about it

I feel “different”

It’s my fault

I can fix it

Common Feelings
common feelings con t
Common Feelings (Con’t)
  • I’m okay. Really everything’s fine
  • I’m no good or I’m not good enough
  • I’m confused
  • I miss the “old family” (absent parent)
strategies of intervention
Strategies of Intervention
  • Education
  • Group work
  • Family Education, Support
      • Parent Education & Skill-building
      • Children’s Groups
  • Individual therapy
  • Family Therapy

Group Work

  • Children learn they are not alone and offers validation
  • Group work increases the likelihood of breaking denial
  • Group work provides safety and protection
  • Children experience healthy social interactions
  • Group work builds trust in social situations
  • Group work allows children to try out new approaches to old problems.

Educational Support Groups

PURPOSE: Education about life skills and support

METHOD: Curriculum-based guided activities

FOCUS: Content-based

LEADERS: Specially trained group facilitators

RULES: Confidentiality

FOLLOW UP: When problems arise, referrals made for assessment

DURATION: Time-limited

ENVIRONMENT: Supportive and Nurturing


Therapy Groups

PURPOSE: Resolution of personal problems

METHOD: Individualized treatment plan

FOCUS: Process based

LEADERS: Licensed Therapist

RULES: Confidentiality

FOLLOW UP: Ongoing assessment

DURATION: May be ongoing

ENVIRONMENT: Supportive, Nurturing, and Confrontive

shifting the balance
Shifting the Balance


Reducing the Risks

Strengthening Protective Factors



    • Social Competence
    • Problem Solving Skills
    • Autonomy
    • Sense of purpose and future

Individual Intervention:

What resilient adults say made a difference:

  • Had a special relationship with an adult who

cared and was nurturing, often a teacher.

  • Latched onto another “parent” figure or family.
  • Had somewhere other than home they felt they belonged.
  • Had activities that were easy to participate in outside the home.
  • Had a sense of purpose and future.
  • Ability to make decisions and communicate feelings
samhsa s children s program kit
SAMHSA’s Children’s Program Kit
  • Goals:
    • To assist treatment providers and community-based youth-serving systems to educate and support children affected by parental alcohol and drug addiction
    • To prevent substance abuse and promote resilience in the highest risk youth population
    • To bring the benefits of hope, healing, and recovery to children of addicted persons

Children’s Program Kit





  • Help children understand the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
  • Help children realize that addiction is not their fault.
  • Help children realize that they are not alone; many young people live in families with addiction.
  • Help middle-school and high-school-age children understand that they are at increased risk for addiction because it tends to run in the family.



  • Help children identify and express both comfortable and uncomfortable feelings.
  • Help children understand how feelings may affect them and how they can handle feelings in safe ways.
  • Help children understand that there are safe people with whom they can share feelings and get support.


Treatment & Recovery

  • Help children understand that people with addiction need help to recover.
  • Help children realize they can’t fix their parents problems, but can work on their own self care.
  • Help children realize that treatment and aftercare assist addicted people to get better.


Safe People

  • Help children understand the need for and importance of always staying safe.
  • Help children understand the characteristics that make people “safe people.”
  • Help children realize that it’s okay to ask safe people for help.
key tool for intervention 7 c s
Key Tool for Intervention7 C’s

I didn’t CAUSE it.

I can’t CURE it.

I can’t CONTROL it.

I can take CARE of myself by:

COMMUNICATING my feelings.

Making healthy CHOICES


what messages do families need
You’re not alone.

You deserve help, and there are safe people who can help.

It’s OK to feel your feelings.

Treatment helps, and recovery happens.

It’s not your fault.

Addiction is a disease.

It’s important to talk.

You can live a good life, even if your parent continues to drink.

What Messages Do Families Need?
parents caregivers need
Parents & Caregivers Need:
  • Adult children of the addicted need support, education on addiction, skill building practice
  • Common needs:
  • Setting limits and reasonable consequences
  • Knowledge of what is “normal” development
  • Encouragement to have fun with children, share warmth, and build positive / non-critical relationships
additional parent caregiver needs
Additional Parent / Caregiver Needs:
  • Validation of efforts
  • Understanding of enabling vs empowering and impact on children (and CD)
  • Effective communication techniques
  • Language to talk with children
for more information
For More Information

Betty Conger

Henry Ford Health System

Maplegrove Community Education

Children’s Program



National Association for Children of Alcoholics



training regarding using children s program kit
Training Regarding Using Children’s Program Kit

December 10 – 11, 2008 (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Crown Plaza, Brooklyn Center

Registration fees, materials, breakfast and lunch will be paid by CJI; attendees must pay for lodging

Registration forms will be emailed in mid-October

To receive a registration form, send an email with your name, title, agency name, phone number, and email address to shannon.campbell@courts.state.mn.us

Space for only 50 participants to be chosen based on application criteria