AIA Change Agents

Home | Blog | AIA Change Agents | 2012 | AIA Change Agents – Project Stable Home

AIA Change Agents – Project Stable Home

This post a part of an on-going series called AIA Change Agents where we get to know each of the  direct service programs funded by the Children’s Bureau under the AIA Act. In this segment, we sat down to chat with Kyrie Sankaran, Project Director of Project Stable Home, located in Los Angeles, CA.

1. Tell us a little about Project Stable Home.

Project Stable Home (PSH) at Children’s Institute, Inc. in Los Angeles is a relationship-based program designed to meet the needs of pregnant mothers, as well as the needs of families of high-risk children from birth through age three. Based on a neurodevelopmental and psychosocial model, the program provides a wide range of services which are primarily home-based including: developmental assessments, child development/parenting education (utilizing the Growing Great Kids curriculum), and child-parent psychotherapy. Families also have the option to attend center-based services including: domestic violence prevention/anger management groups, Baby & Me groups, infant massage (Touch Communication in Parenting Groups, Kalena Babeshoff’s Healthy Family Living Approach), and reflective parenting groups. Our treatment team is comprised of in-home service workers, MSW interns, staff therapists, a care coordinator and a parent partner.

2. Project Stable Home clients are generally living in poverty with minimal or no employment and a host of caregiving risk factors. It’s intense work with a challenging population. What inspires you to come to work every morning?

As program director and supervisor, my inspiration comes from the dedication of my staff to the families that they serve. I celebrate with my staff each victory they accomplish with their families, advocate with them for the families who need assistance in navigating through challenging systems, and support them through reflective practice in the difficulties that they face while working with their families. Every story is one of courage, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to hold and support them in the work that they do.

3. Tell us about your clientele. Is there a particular family that sticks out in your mind?

Most of the children referred to us are either in the foster care system or are still with their parent(s), but are at risk of being removed from their homes due to caregivers’ vulnerability to substance use, mental health issues, or exposure to violence. We also have a number of families who are self-referred. Notably, we have been having more single fathers referred to us over the past year or so, and we have been having great success in helping them parent their young child(ren). One unforgettable story shared with me was that of a 60-year-old father of an infant, who is learning how to parent for the first time in his life. The trusting relationship established with my staff led him to wait outside his door, rain or shine, for the arrival of my in-home service worker. He never missed a session. His eagerness to create a different life for his infant, compared to his which was filled with multiple incarcerations, motivated him to change. Within a short period, he child-proofed his small living space, bought a blender and learned to prepare nutritious food for his infant, participated in providing nurturing touch to his infant, and purchased age appropriate toys to enhance the babies’ development. To top it all off, he started an educational fund for his infant to ensure that his baby gets the education he needs.

4. How do you find a balance between strengthening the family and protecting the children?

Safety of the children is always first. If there is an indication or even a suspicion of abuse, a Child Protective Service report will be made. However, with many of the families that we serve, the issues are usually not “reportable” but of concern. With these families, we work on increasing their protective factors through parent education, instruction on child development, lending support, linking them to community supports, and providing psychotherapy when needed. We have seen families transform with these supports in place, especially with the consistent care and education of our staff. When this change happens, families start to feel a healthy ownership of their children and naturally want to protect them.

5. If Project Stable Home were to have a mascot, what would it be?

It would be a kangaroo with its joey. The work at Project Stable Home has always been with the caregiver and baby/child dyad. They are inseparable as young children learn to first regulate and co-regulate their emotions and behaviors with a safe, nurturing caregiver in their lives. PSH models nurturing kangaroo care for many of our families who have not experienced such care in their own lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *