Work of the Domestic Abuse Restorative Family Approaches Consortium (DARFA)
DARFA Choices for Change
At the point of referral the family had been escalated to Child Protection status following repeated and distressing breakups in the parents’ relationship. Two complaints had been made against Social Services by the family and their involvement with a domestic abuse couples service had broken down because of allegations of breach of confidentiality.
The initial engagement for whole family work was tentative, and within a few weeks there was a disclosure of sexual abuse from the teenage daughter against her adult brother which has resulted in a court case.
Although great care had to be taken with the family work not to infringe on any police or social services conditions, the children and adults continued to engage with the service beyond this crisis.
Each member of the family had a confidential space to explore their individual needs. The children had not previously engaged with the services that were offered.
Choices for Change was able to build a positive working relationship with the youngest child. He was able to express his needs through art and open discussion. He also was able to communicate to school and his family about his sadness through our work together. C4C created a safe forum for the whole family, as well as the couple, to safely share their needs and create plans and boundaries.
The family were able to make use of techniques and tools learned through our sessions together as a way to engage with other members of the family who weren’t present, in order to negotiate shared boundaries and acknowledge everybody’s needs.
As they developed better communication and clearer aims, changes were made in the cycle of their chaotic relationship and the impact on the children. This has been evidenced by:
Both adults making changes in the way they respond to couple conflict and external pressure.
Mum has changed her emotional responses and actions in order to safeguard the children.
Both primary school and secondary school have noticed that the children have flourished over the past six months, and the head teacher at the primary school has been involved in the intervention at the child’s request.
The teenage daughter has been able to have her voice heard at core group meetings through prepared questions. She has reported a marked improvement in the ability of the family to make plans and talk about their different needs and feelings.
This family has been known to Social Services for 3 years now and at the last Case Conference in August Social Services were preparing to take legal proceedings.
The changes brought about by the family’s engagement with C4C was noted by children’s services at the last core group in January and the Social Worker is now hopeful that the family will be de-registered at the next case- conference.
“Before the service got involved I felt down most of the time and there was a lot going on. I am now feeling a lot happier and my problems are/have been solved.
Also feeling more confident. The service has improved us talking as a family a lot and it is much easier to communicate” service user (14yrs)
“I felt my life was all over the place both emotional and feeling drained… I now feel stronger and confident in myself and feel better. I have also had good support and advice from the service” service user (Mum)
As part of my intervention it has been useful for the family to help them clarify expectations and process confusing information. This has meant a considerable amount of indirect work to support the family, however this has given them more confidence in making longer term changes and plans.
“Choices for Change have worked really well to support the family to figure out where they fit within the expectations from Children’s Services. The service has allowed them to explore and try out change, in a way that they were previously unable to.” Dave Edwards IFST