Browndale's satellite programme is based on the concept
knowledge gained in the therapeutic family in the residential treatment centre can be helpful to families in the
community. Through this programme, experienced therapeutic parenting staff, resource staff and social workers trained
in child care have offered their services to families in the Barrie-Newmarket area. Since the spring of 1972,12 community families have been involved in the
Many children from troubled families attempt to cope with their problems in ways that make them unacceptable to the public school system. The Browndale
elsewhere in this issue) was made available to some of these children. Through the Browndale school's summer programme, some of these children,
with their family workers, joined other Browndale staff and children in camping and canoe trips.
hanging around street corners at night, kids rebelling against the public school system, these are symptoms of breakdowns
in communications within families. Symptoms, also, that no one is involved with families at the time that support could really be
helpful to them.
Teachers point out problems to parents, police point out problems to parents, but few agencies are able to provide
support to a family
before critical problems arise. For example, a welfare worker might be aware that the new baby born into a family will likely cause
serious problems due to jealousy from other family members. But he lacks the time and the resources to help the family accommodate the newcomer emotionally.
Many agencies have the facilities to assess what's wrong with a child, but few agencies have enough workers available with a sound knowledge of family dynamics to go in and provide support for the child's family. Some agency workers are frightened
of getting involved with families to that extent because they fear
they will lose their "objectivity" or that people will become dependent upon them.
You can avoid having a family become dependent on you by looking for the strengths within the family. Your role is supportive. You must make
your understanding and knowledge available so that the individuals will be able to learn how to handle their problems, how to parent their
kids, how to relate to a husband or a wife
and to the community.
You need to spend time with a family you are trying to help in this way because you need to get to know them as human beings. You cannot really get to
know someone in an office or traditional "interview" situation. You get to know people in their own homes. You have to become familiar with
is they struggle with on an on-going,
The family also needs to get to know you, as a person, not as a "professional" who is there to see what's "wrong" with the family. They need to feel that you
to find out what they can do, that
you have faith in their ability to cope. What you are doing is cooperating
with them to solve a common problem. It won't work if the family thinks - or if you
think -that you have all the answers and their input is valueless. Your
role is supportive. They must carry the main thrust of the change process.
Most of the families have come into the satellite programme through referrals from the schools; some from the Children's Aid Societies or community
A Browndale social worker meets with the family in need to assess how much and what kind of help they need. Sometimes it is an advantage for the family and the
child if the child comes to the Browndale school on a daily basis. During the summer
the child might come to the Brown-dale
camp. The psychologists and other professional staff who are available to the Browndale treatment programme are also available
to the families in our satellite programme.
One of our workers who had taken a child in the satellite programme to a recreational programme in the town became
aware of another child there who obviously
needed help. In response to Mike's friendly overtures, the child began to follow Mike around and spend as much time
with him as he could. The child needed help, he was looking for help, the question was how could we best help him? Mike discussed it with me and we thought the best approach
would be for Mike to call the boy's parents
and tell them that he had met their son and got to know him and ask him if he could come around sometime to meet them. As an agency
that is involved in the community, we have the opportunity to approach people directly, as a neighbour might, in response to a natural concern of one person
The advantage of helping a child while he is still living with his own family is that it relieves the family of the guilt and frustration
they go through when a child is taken from them. If we can avoid the necessity of the parents having to say to themselves, "We are inadequate, we can no
our child, he has to be removed from us," then I think we've done a lot toward achieving a stability in the family that might otherwise be lost forever. And as important as this is
for the parents, it is even more important to the child, because the most important people in a child's life are his parents; and the
most important problem for him to resolve is his tangled relationship with his parents.
I think the satellite programme has a fantastic potential for expansion. More and more, though, I see us as a catalyst
bringing together the resources of the community, including volunteers. Young couples who haven't yet started their own family and who would like to learn
more about the parenting role, might want to help someone else who has half a dozen children and is feeling overburdened.
I grew up in a small community in New Brunswick where people were concerned about
I think the potential for bringing back that neighbourly concern does exist but it will take a lot of work by a lot of people who are ready and able to become really involved
with other people
and who are prepared to accept the responsibility of relationship with other people. At Browndale we need to become more involved
in the community around us, not only as professionals, but also as concerned citizens.
I hope we can initiate and support the development of community resource centres which would be staffed 24-hours-a-day,
by experienced child care staff who would be available to people in the community in times of crisis and as on-going support to them in
to parent, their children. In time, as experienced citizens and other community agencies became involved these resource centres could be operated
by the community
for the community.