The Mother/Child Unit is a rehabilitation residential facility within the Home for the care of malfunctioning mothers together with their infants and young children.
Many of the abusive and neglectful mothers have the potential to raise their children without putting them at risk, and provide them a fair environment to develop normally.
Malfunctioning mothers are almost always themselves the victims of abuse and neglect. As a result of their histories and lack of support systems,they fa il to create adequate homes for their children.
After many years of treating children that were taken out of their homes. we came to the conclusion that many mothers would be able to care appropriately for their children if given the chance to recover in a suitable environment with the suitable treatment.
The Mother/Child Unit was established by the Shabtai Levi Home as an experimental project in 2004 with the participation of the Israeli Ministry of Welfare and the support of the Jewish Community of Greater Toronto.
It is the first service of its kind in Israel. A family can stay for 14 months with the possibility of extension if needed. A mother can stay in the unit with up to three children,aged from birth to 6 years. We started with only three mothers,and we are now at capacity with 8 mothers and their children. Success is such that we now have a wait list and need to establish a transitional unit.
The Goals of the Unit are:
- Protecting the child without separat ion from its mother
- Rehabilitating the mother/child relationship
- Laying the foundat ion for future rehabilitation of the mother in the community, in terms of child-raising, household management,economic responsibility and orientation toward work ing outside the home
Very intensive, friendly intervention that is conduc ted 24 hours a day, seven days a week by caregivers, with the help of volunteers. This is necessary because extremely neglectful mothers do not care for their infants in the night and even abuse them at the beginning of their stay in the Unit.
Evaluation and intensive treatment by social workers and psychologists and diagnosis by outside agencies.
The caregivers and the social workers suppor t the mothers. coach and facilitate processes between mothers and children,and set boundaries when needed. Social workers meet the mothers for psychotherapy, dyadic treatment with their children and discussions about family management. The treatment is very intensive and each segment of behaviour is used as a basis for discussion, evaluation and treatment.
WHAT WE NEED
The basic treatment program previously outlined needs the following additions:
An Arts and Crafts Teacher: Many mothers have creative potential that has never been expressed and recognized. Their potential can be used as a foundation for further development. An arts and crafts teacher,who has begun working with funding from a temporary donation, presents the mothers with a wide spectrum of stimuli within a friendly atmosphere and encourages them to create things for themselves and for their children. As a start, the teacher meets with the mothers four hours per week.
An Occupational Therapist: Many of the neglected children have developmental problems. Aside from all the other forms of intervent ion, the mothers need a friendly guide to help them respond correctly to the developmental difficulties of their children, when they are ready to do so. The occupational therapists will be selected carefully and, in the beginning, will work in the Unit for four hours per week .
Mother/Child Bonding in the Therapeutic Swimming Pool: A neighbouring hospital, with whom we have good relations,has offered the mothers a 12-week course with their very experienced developmental physiotherapist,in their therapeutic swimming pool. We believe that in order to help these mothers, the use of every form of intervention is needed.
Therapeutic Play Sessions: This activity offers an opportunity for mothers and children to be toget her safely,and enables them to spend pleasant quality time in a relaxed environment. The opportunity to play together will promote the development of the mothers and their children, and the relationship between them. It will also allow for evaluation of the mothers, the children and the mother-child relationship, and for expanding the possibility of intervention in the mother-child relationship.
Therapeutic Group for Victims of Sexual Abuse: All women who spent time in the Unit, in the present or in the past, experienced severe sexual abuse. In order to lead a reasonable life they deserve and need both individual and group therapy with special experienced therapists.
Establishment of a Transitional Unit: After leaving the Unit with their children, our mothers need an adaptation phase. A Transitiona l Unit that will put an emphasis on finding and keeping a job, coping with problems in the work environment and sound economical management will ensure their success in the real world.