Maria was referred to CHIP when her second son was seven months old. At the time of enrollment Maria was battling severe depression, and had already experienced many challenges in her life, including childhood neglect, loss of significant other, and severe mental illness. As a result of her depression and the lack of positive role models, Maria was detached from her children and unable to exhibit nurturing behaviors toward them. She demonstrated constant irritation and hostility in her interactions with her children. In these early days, Maria’s CHIP team provided concrete “homework” for her, such as: “Give your children one hug this week.” Initially, Maria would respond, “It is very difficult. I can’t.” The Clinical Social Worker on the CHIP team motivated Maria to attend visits with a psychiatrist so that she was successfully medicated for her depression.
Through service from her Parent Educator, Clinical Social Worker, and Community Health Nurse, Maria started making great strides. She began attending more of her physical and mental health appointments. She also enrolled her children in Head Start. When Maria became pregnant with her third child, her CHIP team worried about the recurrence of depression. As a preventive measure, CHIP assisted Maria in obtaining prenatal care at VCU Medical Center, so that she could have the appropriate medication management services if needed. Maria had a very smooth pregnancy and has remained healthy for more than two years. She exercises regularly and does not smoke or drink. Now, both of her older children are attending school regularly, and all three of her children have up-to-date immunizations and medical insurance.
Maria follows recommendations from her CHIP team. She is now able to hug her children. She uses positive reinforcement and plans individual time with her children. Maria has developed self-awareness as a parent; she identifies and verbalizes ways that her parenting behaviors affect her children. Maria is a true inspiration for all the successes she has fought for. Now when the CHIP team visits Maria, they notice her holding her youngest child, caressing his hair, and encouraging him in activities. She verbalizes that the lack of affection she received as a child makes it harder for her to show love to her children now. Maria recognizes this, saying “I want to change that. I don’t want my children raised the same way I was.” She continues to achieve her goals and make strides towards achieving grander goals in the future.