During the last three years, more than half of the children at Childhaven were referred because one of their parents had a substance abuse issue.
As a clinical supervisor at Childhaven, Hillary Winslow-Simpson says she sees many parents in the community who are struggling with addiction.
“Many parents with substance abuse issues have faced significant trauma in their lives that they’re trying to cope with,” she said. “The family might lose their job or their home, get into legal trouble, and wind up living in poverty. Addiction becomes a downward spiral.
“And, of course, it affects their ability to care for their children.”
During the last three years, more than half of the children at Childhaven were referred because one of their parents had a substance abuse issue — an indicator of how deeply the opioid epidemic has impacted our region.
Childhaven provides early learning and therapeutic services to trauma-affected families in King County. As a therapist, Winslow-Simpson supports parents as they work to improve their lives and their relationships with their children. After learning about their individual challenges, she helps them build parenting skills, access other community resources, and connect to peer groups where they can interact with other caregivers.
“I worked with one mother who was facing a methadone dependency,” Winslow-Simpson recalled. “She was so overwhelmed and angry at the world. We strived to be a safe and accepting place for her. Most of her friends and family had abandoned her.”
The mother went through Childhaven’s parenting interventions while also receiving substance abuse treatment at a clinic nearby. Meanwhile, her children attended Childhaven’s therapeutic day program, where teachers and therapists helped them work through their own emotional challenges. In time, the mother’s confidence as a parent increased, and she was able to work through her anger.
“Today, her children are acting out less, and they have moments of real joy with their mother,” Winslow-Simpson said. “When you help the parent succeed, everyone in the family wins.”
Childhaven provides therapeutic care and support for families and children, birth to school-age, who have been affected by trauma. For more information about Childhaven or ways to get involved, please visit www.childhaven.org.