When people first become acquainted with the work of The Family Center, often they remark “I could never do that job.” With a mission “to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect by empowering parents to raise happy, healthy children”, most people envision our agency working with parents who want to hurt their children. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There is a saying that “hurt people hurt people.” The parents we serve had childhoods riddled with trauma and are often incarcerated, in substance abuse recovery, or involved with the legal system as a result of the extreme adversity they faced growing up. Sadly, they are repeating behaviors they grew up with and often unintentionally continue the cycle of abuse and neglect with their own children. When parents become involved with The Family Center they are shown compassion, empathy and respect; interactions that have been almost nonexistent in their lives. As we partner with parents and empower them to develop safe, stable and nurturing relationships with their children, we notice our parents begin to hope for the first time that life can be different. One parent said “I can’t wait to go home and approach my child differently.”
We know our deep respect for parents and connection with them is the birthplace of meaningful change. Without this compassionate care, our program would be ineffective. Realizing its importance we decided to prioritize self and compassionate care by including it on our agency’s strategic plan.
After appointing a Compassionate Care Coordinator in the agency, a detailed plan was developed. The plan included monthly newsletters which highlight strategies to maintain compassion, regular dialogue in staff meetings to encourage active practice, and required annual training. Staff also participate in a fun activity with one another once per quarter to relax and connect.
The values of self and compassionate care have become internalized in The Family Center culture. Prioritizing these practices refuels and empowers staff to maintain intentional, empathetic relationships with clients. It is integral to realizing our mission and protecting our community’s most vulnerable children.