The success of your child’s placement at Focus House hinges, in part, on your support of our program. This support comes in many ways. At a minimum, you will be asked to:
- Attend all required counseling sessions
- Provide adequate supervision for your child while they are home on weekend passes. This also includes making sure that your child is adhering to home visit guidelines and court orders.
- Reporting back to the staff in a timely manner any problems which arise during home visits.
- Attend conferences, appointments, and activities related to your child’s placement.
- Be responsible for staying in contact with your child’s counselor on a weekly basis.
The following paragraphs outline, in more detail, these five basic expectations.
Our approach to counseling is a problem-solving, family focused, type of treatment. Because of this, we cannot provide services to your child without your involvement. At a minimum, all parents will be required to participate in two forms of family therapy:
Individual Family Sessions: For more private meetings, individual family sessions will be scheduled. The frequency of these meetings will be based on your child’s needs. At any time, you may request a family session by contacting your child’s counselor. To ensure that these sessions will go smoothly, younger children (under the age of 10), will not be allowed in the meeting. We will attempt to provide child care on-site if it is requested in advance.
Multi-Family Groups: Sometime during your child’s placement, you will be required to participate in a multi-family group session. Typically, group sessions occur between the fourth and sixth month of your child’s stay. This group meets once a week for approximately two hours. You will be in the group with several other families, and the goal of this therapy session is discuss general types of behavior, which may be common to more than one family.
It is critical that you provide adequate supervision during weekend passes. Your child will undoubtedly want to revert back to “old ways” if they are given the opportunity. Therefore, we require that whenever possible, an adult relative over the age of 21 be present in the home during the visit. At times, this will be inconvenient, but it is what is best for your child. Many of these rules seem rigid and, at times, unrealistic. We do not want you to turn your home into Focus House. However, if your child feels that the Focus House rules only apply during the week, they will not make the progress necessary to complete our program. Dress code, types of music, choice of movies/books, and personal appearance will be some of the areas we need your support. In many cases, you may not agree with the rule, but PLEASE do not voice this opinion in front of your child — take it up with us, instead. Your child will use your opinion to try and cause a division between program staff and family. Remember: united we stand, divided we fall. Your child knows this all too well!
It is imperative that we know how your child is doing on the weekends. This is one of the major areas we use to measure your child’s progress. Each week that your child comes home, you will receive a home visit report form. This needs to be completed by you prior to returning your child to Focus House. Please take a few minutes to provide this needed information in detail, preferably with your child present. We want to know about progress, as well as problems, that may have occurred during the visit. Remember that this becomes a part of your child’s file, so please give us a detailed report. If problems occur during the weekend visit, your child will try to convince you to not report them and will try every possible way to make you feel guilty. Do not fall for these coercive attempts! Depending on the nature of your concern, there are several way to contact us. If you need immediate assistance, call us. The second method of communication is the home visit report form, and the third method is to call your child’s counselor the following week. We discourage this method unless the situation is truly a counseling matter, otherwise, your child will attempt to make every problem a counseling issue.
Attending Conferences, Appointments and Activities
We want to keep you informed of your child’s overall functioning. Also, we value your opinion and want to hear from you. Therefore, you will be notified and invited to various conferences and meetings. In some cases, your attendance will be optional and we understand that work and other commitments may interfere with your attendance. However, we do suggest that you attend as many as you can. By doing so, you will have an opportunity to meet with other staff members and consultants who are involved with your child. Examples of such meetings include school staffings, doctor appointments, meetings with our nursing staff, and special events such as our annual Christmas party.
Staying in Contact
One responsibility of your child’s counselor is to contact you weekly by phone. However, sometimes this is not possible. In these cases, we need you to call in on Thursday evening of Friday morning to discuss your child’s progress for the week. In most cases, this will also be when you find out if your child receives a weekend pass. For parents who do not have a phone in their home, you must make provisions to call us each week. Your first attempt should be with your child’s counselor. If a phone message has been left, or if you have not heard back from us, please call. Remember: each counselor has 10 to 15 parents to contact.