Keeping in Touch (KIT): Supporting parents in alcohol and other drugs residential rehab
Emerging Minds, Australia, November 2020
Starting conversations about parenting and working with parents and their children is an important part of work in alcohol and other drugs residential rehab settings.
The Keeping in Touch with Your Children (KIT) Menu has been designed to provide practical ways you can promote parent-child connectedness during periods of separation required by a rehab stay.
The Keeping in Touch Menu includes :
- a menu poster (no charge including free postage) to display in your rehab setting
- a practice guide to support your use of the Menu
- a workshop presentation that you can use with your team to orient them; and
- an action plan to help you successfully apply the Menu in your setting.
There is also a suite of Keeping in Touch tools for residential and inpatient mental health settings.
These tools can help you implement Keeping in Touch in your workplace and support the mental health of parents and their dependent children.
Why is keeping in touch important?
- We know the circumstances of parents can impact on the immediate emotional and social wellbeing, and future mental health outcomes, of children.
- We also know that the roles of parenting and relationships are important for the recovery of people living with substance use issues.
- We understand that adult-focused health services can find it challenging to incorporate parenting and child and family needs into their scope of practice and service delivery.
Alcohol and other drug practitioners in residential rehab settings are well placed to make a difference to children’s social and emotional wellbeing by supporting and strengthening the parent-child relationship.
The Keeping in Touch Menu and supporting resources are a trauma-informed, relational recovery approach that support practitioners to implement child-focused practice and bring children into the parents’ recovery journey. The resources aim to reduce the trauma of separation, reduce the stigma of parental substance use, and promote family resilience and wellbeing.
The Keeping in Touch Menu expands the idea of connection beyond visits and in-person contact, which is not always possible for parents in residential rehab.
Instead, Keeping in Touch offers a menu of contact choices, that you can work through with parents to decide what is best at a given time.
The Keeping in Touch Menu poster displays the range of contact choices for parents in residential rehab.
It is a visual invitation to parents that they can talk to staff about their dependent children and provides ideas of how they can continue to connect with them while they are apart. It is also a reminder for staff, providing prompts to start child-centred conversations with clients who are parents.
It is designed to be displayed permanently in public, high traffic spaces around the treatment centre. This shows parents that staff value the parent-child relationship and are ready to have non-judgemental and helpful conversations about parent-child contact during treatment.
The A3 posters are free to order and can be sent directly to you with free postage.
Explore the contact choices
Sending a personal message home
If a parent isn’t up for talking with their children right away, a message home can show kids that Mum or Dad is ok and thinking of them.
Bringing in something from home
A photo, child’s drawing, or something special from home supports connectedness and encourages conversations with children that are age appropriate and related to everyday things.
Sending something special home
Parents can think about what it might mean for children to receive something from them while they’re apart. Parents can make something special for their child, either individually or as part of a group session.
Phone or message
Thoughtful planning can ensure this contact is at arranged times, doesn’t distract from the parent’s recovery and doesn’t add extra pressure on parents or kids.
Spending time with your children
Support parents with a visit plan that is considerate of the service setting and parent’s current level of wellbeing, vulnerability or risk to ensure this contact is most beneficial for parents and children.
Preparing to go home
Take a future and prevention planning approach to ensure support for the parent and whole family when the time comes to go home.
The practice guide outlines ways in which the Keeping in Touch Menu can be used with parents.
The practice guide provides information about:
- implementation of each contact choice
- age appropriate communication with children
- possible legal requirements relating to child protection orders, family violence and family law
- utilising a child-focused approach and parental agency in your work.
The workshop presentation is a tool team leaders can use to introduce the Keeping in Touch Menu posters to your workplace.
The workshop is available to download and provides introductory information about the Keeping in Touch resources and how they can support your work with parents.
The action plan has been designed to make the process of implementing the Keeping in Touch Menu in your treatment setting as easy and straightforward as possible.
The plan is available to download and provides clear tasks, actions and recommendations for integrating the KIT Menu into your service offering.
Emerging Minds also offers a range of courses providing an introduction to child-focused practice:
- Understanding Child Mental Health
- The Impact of Trauma on the Child
- Engaging with Parents
- Engaging with Children
We also offer courses to support alcohol and other drug practitioners with a child-focused approach for working specifically with parental substance use:
- The Impact of Parental Substance Use on the Child
- Parental Substance Use and Child Aware Practice and Principles
Emerging Minds has a series of tip sheets to support parents to have age-appropriate conversations with children during adversity or tough times:
- Communicating with your baby
- Communicating with your toddler
- Communicating with your primary school aged child
- Communicating with your teenager
These children’s books support conversations about parent substance use: