April 18, 2019 Interview with Family Check-Up Staff Using a family-centered and collaborative approach, The Family Check-Up (FCU) model aims to promote child and family well being by providing parents with new skills and tools to strengthen family relationships. The program includes an initial interview followed by an assessment of the family’s strengths and needs. Using motivating strategies, tailored goals are then developed to meet the unique needs of each family. A final feedback session provides insight on possible follow-up services and an opportunity to continue building parenting skills through Everyday Parenting Curriculum. For more than 20 years, research has shown positive outcomes in early childhood and adolescence for children whose families participated in FCU. The FCU has helped parents improve their skills and confidence. Benefits of this include a reduction in family stress, conflict, and challenging behaviors displayed by pre-schoolers, school-aged children, and teens. The FCU has also been found to lower family stress and conflict. To schedule an appointment, contact: Adriana Chung | 412.727.6649 Parents and caregivers can also visit Adriana in her office. She is at the Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center every day of the week except for Tuesdays. Note that she may be in a session at the Center or out on a home visit, but if you are willing to wait, she is always happy to schedule appointments in person and answer any of your questions. Interview We interviewed Adriana Chung, Family Coach at the Center, to learn more about her experience working Family Check-Up. How did you become interested in working with families? Originally, I wanted to work with children, so I started as a child therapist. But through my work with young children with developmental delays and behavioral/emotional challenges, I realized that I couldn’t do the work without building relationships with their caregivers. So I would have sessions with the children alone, complementary sessions with parents alone, and then joint sessions with both of them together as well. How long have you been here at the Center, and what was your first impression? I’ve been working at the Center since August 2018, so about seven months now. The Center was very impressive in a lot of ways, but what stood out to me most was the culture here. It’s very family-like, not just the physical space but even the relationships among staff members, and between staff members and the families. There is a sense of genuine care and compassion for one another. What can families expect when coming to their first Family Check-Up (FCU)? Parents may find that FCU sessions are different from standard parenting and family management programs. There is a bidirectional relationship, even in the very first session, which is called “Getting to Know You.” The goal is not just for me to get to know the family but for them to get to know me and the FCU as well. We ask questions about one another. Everything starts with building a trusting relationship. We have different conversations about family values, traditions, and beliefs, and we focus on the strengths of the family in that initial meeting and what is going well for them, but through that we are still able to address parent’s questions or concerns. How have the families impacted you? They have impacted me in a lot of different ways, but mostly they are teaching me about resilience, which looks different in every family and exists on both individual and family levels. They are also showing me a huge sense of connectedness. I’ve noticed families look out for one another and for each other’s children. I think it may be the culture of the community, so I’m learning about Homewood values as well. What do you find most satisfying about your interactions with families? What is most challenging? I was encouraged to find that most families have already begun thinking about making changes in their personal lives and the way they approach parenting. This makes my work so much easier – we begin a step ahead of the game because they are already motivated to talk about those things. Also, the parents genuinely want the best for their children. I’ve seen this in every single parent I have met and am working with. I can feel it. Most challenging to my work here has been being the new person. There is an established culture at Family Support. Most of the families have been participating here for longer than I have. They’ve known each other and the staff for longer as well. Because I’m new, and I’m from a different state and city, I have to take time to build trust. What are some common goals that you see often in parents who come to you for services? That really varies actually. Some parents want to be able to understand and communicate with their child better. Others want to improve the parent-child relationship and instill openness and honesty. Also, some come to improve their relationship with their partner, improve their co-parenting skills so they can resolve differences around parenting more effectively, which they know affects their well-being. Finally, some parents desire to improve their own well-being because they know that it impacts that of their child. At the end of the day, all of them are really concerned about the child’s well-being and don’t want to jeopardize it, so their goal is to address whatever is getting in the way of their parenting and their child’s well-being. What’s the biggest misconception that parents have about therapy? Many parents have this idea that therapy or counseling is only for people who have diagnoses or have been severely traumatized and aren’t able to function on a daily basis. I think that stigma may keep some people away. Confidentiality can be another issue at a Center like this where the relationship is very family-like. I want everyone to know that everything is strictly confidential unless I fear that someone’s safety is at risk. How is working with a parent different from working with other individuals? The biggest difference is that whatever we’re talking about is going to impact the child. The same thing goes for any goals being set; they will impact the child and the parent-child relationship, even in the case of a parent who feels depressed or wants support in managing their stress. I use a parenting framework, so it’s not just about how the parent themselves can cope with that stress, but we may also explore how that level of stress impacts the way the parent responds to their children, so I bring that perspective into every appointment. What has been your biggest success in this role? Well, I can’t say that I made this happen by myself, but I feel that the number of families that have participated in the FCU is a success. The Family Development Specialists have helped me a lot. They are like gatekeepers to the Center, and they are great at facilitating my ability to build relationships with the families since they have built theirs already. More than half of the families enrolled at the Center have had at least one session with me, and that makes us all feel good. We collaborate well, and we are a great team.