Your ability to track progress relies on how well you defined case plan goals—what needed to be done, by whom and when.
Progress through each case plan period will look different for each parent.
Lives evolve and change rapidly, and you will need to monitor what is happening while being flexible and responsive to barriers and obstacles. At times, you will need to go backwards so you can keep moving forward.
Strengths-based approaches will help you build your relationships and support a parent’s change.
However, you need to be the voice of the child, and you need to be up-front and frank when things are not going well or if the safety and risks for a child increase.
Review more than alcohol and drug use
Your case plan should cover the many elements of life and home that make a child safe. This means creating plans that go beyond the scope of just treatment and recovery.
Your plan should cover parent and child relationships, parenting practices and any coexisting factors that may be part of the child and family experience.
Your review will focus on all these factors too. You should be clear about what progress looks like and how it will be measured.
The following paragraphs provide examples of how to monitor progress.
A parent’s progress with treatment and recovery may look like:
- reducing alcohol or other drug use
- reducing overdose risk and blood-borne disease risk behaviours
- improving social functioning
- improving physical health
- improving psychological adjustment
- reducing criminal behaviour
- engaging in treatment and completing treatment
- putting into practice what they learnt during treatment
- connecting with community resources to support relapse prevention and recovery
- disconnecting from people and places that influence their alcohol and other drugs use
Developing their parenting practices may look like:
- engaging with and completing parenting skills programs
- applying new skills learnt
- improving parenting practices (that can be shown over time)
- putting in place safety strategies and protecting children from people or places that may hurt them
- not exposing children to their alcohol or drug use
- changing discipline strategies.
Repairing their relationship and bonding with their child may look like:
- engaging with and completing of parenting and attachment-based programs
- applying new skills learnt
- showing increased empathy and understanding for their child
- demonstrating increased ability to respond to cues and emotional cues from their child.
Responding to relapse
It is important for the parent to be working with someone well versed in relapse prevention work. It will be the role of alcohol and other drugs professionals to work with parents through this.
Do not judge parents. Be aware of language and how the words you use may be interpreted or reflect bias. Acknowledge that relapse can be a common experience in recovery.
I understand that overcoming your alcohol use is not an easy road and relapse can be a part of recovery.
I can only imagine how hard it was for you to tell me this has happened. Tell me what you’re thinking and feeling about it.
Make sure everyone knows why you are there. Reinforce to both parents and alcohol and other drugs professionals that your role is to keep children safe. When doing this, be up-front about your assessment of the child’s safety and what it means for the family.
The great thing about having the right services involved means that we all have a job to do to help you make changes and to make sure [the child] is safe while it happens. We all need to be really clear about what we are doing and need to do—to make sure we do it.
I am worried that if you can’t make changes to your current alcohol and other drugs use, it may not be safe for them to stay with you.
Re-motivate and continue to help motivation grow. Discuss with the parent (at a time that feels right for them) the need to revisit the pros and cons for maintaining change.
We talked about what making changes would be like for you, both the positives and the challenges. I am wondering if we can have another look at these and what you would like to do to help get you back on track so [your child] is safe
Tools and worksheets to assist with motivation are available at the Smart Recovery Australia website.
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