The role of Elizabeth House
The role of Elizabeth House in developing the life project
“For the child, have a life plan is to live in a stable environment with a significant person that meets its needs and with whom he develops a permanent attachment. The child needs to establish an emotional connection with someone around him who he can count … Through this link, it can develop physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. The maintenance and return of the child in the family environment are privileged life projects. However, when this is not possible or considered not to be in the child’s interest, another life plan is established for that child. “(A life project: Roots for Life / Permanency Planning: A Permanent Plan for Lifelong Roots MSSS, Québec 2010)
In Quebec, there are legal timelines and related policies put in effect by the Director of Youth Protection (DYP) to ensure that a permanent planning is done as early as possible in the life of the child. The parents of young children (aged 0-5 years) who are followed under the Law on Protection of Youth are given a limited time to correct the situation of risk in which is their child (the reason for the involvement of youth protection), and to demonstrate that they are able to provide security and stability to their child over time. For reasons related to the history of parents and / or risk factors, some parents might have revoked custody of their child if it was intensive services provided by Elizabeth House. Residential, particular program offers mothers a great opportunity to demonstrate that they can improve their skills as parents and stabilize their situation, while being supervised and supported in their parenting.
Elizabeth House noted that in response to the permanency planning and amendments to the Law on Youth Protection, there was an increase in demand for the residential program and a change in the nature of references . There are more antenatal admissions of mothers who are known to the DPJ or admissions aimed at preventing the involvement of youth protection. There are more infants than toddlers or children of kindergarten age who are admitted to the residential program.
In situations where a child is monitored under the Act respecting the protection of youth, close cooperation is required to ensure that relevant information is exchanged and that customers are well aware of the tasks or changes that they are asked to undertake. The members of the clinical team of Elizabeth House escort them to key meetings at the offices of the DPJ where they provide direct and transparent feedback on the progress of clients. Their role is vital: they provide a neutral assessment of the strengths, weaknesses and skills of a parent; in addition, they help parents understand the decisions that are taken.
While the main objective of the work of Elizabeth House is to assist parents in their learning in order to provide adequate care for their children, sometimes it is impossible. In situations where it is determined that a parent is not able to meet all the needs of her child, or a parent himself finds that it is not prepared to take to parent full time, the clinical team of Elizabeth House continues to play a role in assessing the ability of a parent to provide care for her child part-time, if any, and to support the parent, when possible, in influencing the decisions taken concerning the child.