Maria, a single mother of two (Lino, 12, and Fabio, 20), was referred to the Troubled Families programme by the police.
Lino had a very low school attendance record of 26% when the family were referred to me. Maria had been taken to court over the poor attendance and was facing a fine. At the point of referral, it had been identified that Maria had mental health issues that she was struggling to cope with.
When I began working with the family, I realised that Lino also had mental health issues related to his father’s recent prison sentence and coming to terms with what his father had done. I also realised that, due to financial difficulties, the family had got into rent arrears. The home was chaotic, Maria didn’t have confidence in her parenting and did not put any boundaries in place for Lino. When Lino refused to go to school, Maria didn’t know how to respond.
I began by working with the school to discuss the reasons for the low attendance and put in place support and processes to help improve it. I accompanied Lino to school on a number of occasions to make sure he attended and to identify any concerns he might have had at school. Lino was also referred to the school counsellor, which led to an assessment by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Working together, the school and I set up a process so that I would be informed if Lino had not been in for the morning register, so that I could follow up immediately with the family.
I also worked with Maria to make sure that she got the support she needed. I accompanied Maria to her GP and discussed the range of mental health services available to her. A referral to a parenting course was made to increase her confidence in putting in boundaries at home.
On top of this, it was important to ensure the family’s finances were more stable. They completed a benefit check to identify if they were entitled to any benefits and also set up a payment plan to help clear the rent arrears.
I have only been working with the family for a couple of weeks, but Lino’s attendance has already increased to 37% and, if the attendance continues to rise, Maria will not be fined. Lino is receiving regular support from the school counsellor and is coping a lot better.
Maria has started to put in boundaries at home and is more confident in disciplining Lino when there are behavioural issues or he refuses to attend school. Things are going really well for the family now, and I can’t wait to see what they will achieve.
*The names in this case study have been changed