At four years old, Jacob* was a very emotional child. He would often throw temper tantrums and never got along with his baby sister or older brother. As the middle child, he felt left out and would never listen to his mother. Jacob had a difficult time adjusting to structure in his pre-K class, and would have many outbursts throughout the day, threatening teachers and other students.

Jacob was referred to the Child Guidance Center’s Child First program. The team could see that Jacob suffered from depression, and through discussions with his mother, Olivia, they found that he had witnessed domestic violence between her and his stepfather. In addition to the stress of divorce and now being a single mother of three, Olivia had to deal with added dilemma of looking for a new home, as their family was being evicted from their apartment. It was clear that these unfortunate circumstances impacted Olivia’s ability to properly parent her children, especially Jacob. She just didn’t seem to want to deal with his behaviors and would often ignore him.

The Child First team began in-home therapy with Jacob twice a week to help him manage his emotions and better communicate his feelings to others, especially his mother.  The team also helped Olivia find a therapist so she could manage her depression, and through care coordination the team was able to connect Olivia with community resources to find a new place to live. Over the course of treatment, Olivia began to shift her perceptions of Jacob. She became available to play with him, something the team had never seen. She also became concerned about Jacob’s safety, noticing and attending when he was in danger. Jacob began to express his emotions to his mother, now that it was apparent that she cared about his feelings. By providing therapy sessions in this family’s natural environment and empowering Olivia to parent, Jacob’s behaviors improved, and he is now performing well in school and getting along with his siblings.