eMbrace is an intensive, six weekend, live-in program supporting mothers of children aged 0-2 years of age, who are struggling with parenting. Many of the mums attending the eMbrace program have experienced poor parenting as a child, child sexual abuse, domestic violence and are often struggling with their mental health. eMbrace helps these mothers learn practical skills and gain understanding of their personal struggles to make positive changes to their parenting that see both mother and child thrive.
Marie (pseudonym) was referred to the eMbrace program in July 2022. At the time she was 19 years old and a mother of two children. Marie had grown up in challenging circumstances having experienced neglect and abuse. She was taken into care and raised in a range of foster care placements and residential care facilities with rostered staff. Marie experienced childhood trauma that led her to drug use in her teenage years to avoid the emotion pain.
Marie had her first child, a daughter, when she was 16 years old. When her daughter was 8 months old, she was taken into care as it as it was assessed that Marie was unable to provide safe and adequate care. This led to a long-term order by the Children’s Court until 18 years of age, meaning that the child would never be returned to Marie's care.
Fast forward three years, at age 19, Marie had a second baby girl. This little one was removed from Marie’s care at birth, due to concern for the baby’s well-being. This was devastating for Marie.
Over time, Marie matured enough to make better decisions and was showing she could put her child’s needs before her own. She stopped using drugs and started attending a parenting program. She attended access visits with each of her daughters as often as she was allowed.
Due to Marie’s strong commitment and hard work making changes to her parenting and lifestyle choices, the Department for Child Protection (DCP) considered the possibility of the safely return her child to her care. Marie was referred to the eMbrace program with her second daughter. She was so excited to be able to attend the program as she saw it as an opportunity to improve her parenting skills and to develop confidence in having her daughter in her care for an extended period of time. Before starting the eMbrace program Marie had only had her little girl in her care for one overnight visit. All her other visits had only been for several hours at a time during the day.
Marie whole-heartedly engaged in the eMbrace program. She worked hard on improving her ability to settle her baby to sleep and to learn what is ‘normal’ crying for a baby and when and how she needed to respond. Marie needed a great deal of reassurance and guidance about what was good, safe and responsible parenting.
Marie became connected to staff who provided a safe and reassuring environment for her to share some of her life challenges and she worked well with the counsellor to address some of her immediate emotional needs. Marie engaged enthusiastically in the education modules, eager to learn new skills and gather new information to be able to continue to develop her parenting ability. Over the course of the six week eMbrace program, staff could clearly observe Marie’s practical parenting skills were improving and also her confidence in herself as a competent mum.
Just prior to the end of the program Marie was informed that her daughter would be returned to her full-time care due. She was overjoyed.
While eMbrace only walks with the mothers who attend the program for a short period of time, it is outcomes like this that reflect the amazing changes that can be accomplished through a short intensive program with one on one mentoring at the right time in a mother’s journey. The earlier the intervention with eMbrace, the better.