Historically, children received help on an ad hoc basis; as and when it was needed. Kids Haven looked for therapy services through private practitioners or at government facilities. This was a very piece-meal approach and relied on goodwill and ‘begging’ for help because we could not afford private patient costs. Government facilities offered diagnoses but no help with treatment going forward. Later, one clinical social worker joined the team as a consultant at no charge on a once-a-week basis and provided more consistent treatment to more children. However, the capacity to treat many children was limited and the need was in increasing. Kids Haven felt overwhelmed by the increasing number of cases showing mental health problems and the deep desire to really make a difference in working with our children.
In late 2014, Kids Haven approached Kinderfonds Mamas with our problem. Discovery Vitality has also contributed additional funding that has helped to cover the administrative costs connected to the Centre.
KFM understood the value of meeting this highly specific need and provided the much-needed resources to open the Therapy Centre in 2015. This has been staffed by a qualified psychologist, 4 intern psychologists and a social worker.
In 2015, the Therapy Centre conducted 496 therapy sessions and 24 psychometric assessments and engaged in two internal research projects while supporting and assisting with a number of external studies at local Universities. Staff attended substance abuse, parenting and sexuality education workshops. More importantly, there were several ‘break-through’ moments in children’s lives as a result of the consistent therapy plus KH was able to fast-track children with learning difficulties into special schools because the education assessments had been properly completed.
Resilience - Kids Haven is focused on developing the whole child and empowering children to move forward and strive for better futures in spite of the adversities they had experienced. This approach doesn’t minimise past experiences neither does it overlook them but it recognises that each individual has potential and strengths. Given this, the therapy centre operates from a strengths based, resiliency approach. This approach differs somewhat from traditional models in psychology, which tends to focus on deficits instead of strengths. Research in resiliency research suggest that high expectations creates a cycle of positive reinforcement that can be highly beneficial (Benard, 1997).The focus at Kids Haven is to recognise the inherent strength and abilities of the children and to help them by making resources available that will nurture resilience.
In 2016, the plan is to work in a more holistic manner; working cohesively across different aspects of care to fully address the needs of individual children. Kids Haven is beginning with monthly case consultations which include therapists, social workers and child care workers. In addition to providing psychotherapeutic care, our services will extend to provision of occupational therapy and speech therapy in-house. A room has been refurbished in the Kids Haven preschool building to become the Occupational Therapy Room.
University research students continue their interest in the activities here and the extent of raw data that Kids Haven has collected over the years on children’s mental health issues.
Kids Haven is extremely proud of what the Therapy Centre has achieved in a short space of time and indebted to Kinderfonds Mamas and Discovery Vitality for trusting us to set up the Centre and move forward in delivering specialized services to our children.