Sometimes families need a little extra help and with four boys, two of whom have special needs, Mat’s mum needed additional support to care for her boys, which is how Mat* came to live in one of MacKillop Family Service’s residential homes when he was seven years old.
Over the last six years, Mat and his mum have worked closely with MacKillop’s Family Preservation Service. Mat’s mum was very clear that she wanted to maintain contact and keep her family together – in fact during all the time Mat was living out of the family home, his mother never once missed a meeting with his care team.
This family contact meant that Mat was eligible to take part in a Targeted Care Package (TCP) to support him to return to the family home. Targeted Care Packages are a Victorian Government initiative that provides an allocation of funding attached to a specific child or young person. The packages are tailored based on an assessment of that child’s needs, and are specifically focused on enabling the transition of a child from residential care into an alternative living arrangement.
With the support offered by the TCP, Mat moved back home with his mum and three brothers in June 2016. Initially, a Support Worker who had worked with Mat in the residential care home provided respite care for him three days per week. In addition, the residential care home Supervisor kept in contact with Mat to ensure Mat had a familiar team supporting his move back home.
Eighteen months later, Mat is still living at home with his family. A key factor in this stability has been Mat’s improved ability to self-regulate his emotions. He has been getting along with his brothers and hasn’t displayed aggressive behaviour since being home. Mat’s mum is continuing to work with Mackillop staff to develop coping strategies and to understand the complex factors that can contribute to Mat’s challenging behaviour.
The TCP has also provided crucial practical support to help Mat’s mum transport Mat to and from school. This was a significant factor in Mat’s reunification with his family as he suffers from social anxiety and is unable to use public transport.
Mat’s teachers are delighted that he is engaging in school and his new-found sense of security and confidence is helping him make friends for the first time. He has started playing piano and is displaying a natural talent for music. Mat and his mum also enjoy yoga together which is helping them develop a closer relationship and strengthening their attachment.
It’s been a long journey for Mat and his family but with the right support along the way, they have overcome the challenges that made it difficult for Mat to stay in the family home. Now, aged 13, Mat is thriving in a supportive home environment.
*Name changed and model image used to protect privacy