The Parent Center is intended to provide rehabilitative services to parents who have been abused and neglected as children.
In 2000 there were approximately three million reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Most perpetrators of child abuse or neglect were parents or other caretakers of children.
Parents who are abusive and neglectful to their children are often socially isolated. Most abusive parents were themselves abused as children. Research indicates that: 95% of child abusers were themselves abused as children; 95% of prostitutes were sexually abused as children; 80% of substance abusers were abused as children; 78% of the prison populations were abused as children. Current research on children who have been severely abused or neglected in their early years indicates that there are changes in brain structure and neurological processing as a young child attempts to adapt to an abusive environment.
Often adults who have been abused and neglected as children have developed problems such as substance abuse, violent behaviors, other mental health issues such as depression and lack of employable skills. When parents are involved in traditional treatment, the focus of treatment is on the obvious such as substance abuse; and as that problem is addressed others begin to surface. Often the traditional treatment is inadequate or inappropriate with the parent being cast as unmotivated, resistant to therapy, defective, etc.
The primary goal of The Parent Center is to reduce or eliminate the effects of childhood abuse and neglect. The second goal is to reduce the risk of parents abusing and neglecting their children. The third goal is to reunite children and parents and eliminate/reduce the risk of recurring abuse or neglect.
The Parent Center will be a residential treatment program with aftercare programs located in the communities of the participants. The center will provide programs for one to six month care as well as short term intensive care, both with aftercare community components. Treatment services will be individualized.
The change process for adults seems to be a linear process, with adults being in different stages of readiness for change before treatment: In the first stage, individuals have no intention of changing their behavior. They don't see a problem. If they are in therapy it is because of some form of coercion. They usually relapse.
In the second stage, there is problem awareness, but there has been no commitment to take action. Some behavioral changes may occur but the move toward a successful method of dealing with the problem has yet to be made.
The third is the action stage where there is motivation to change and a person modifies behaviors or environments to overcome the problems. The final stage is the maintenance stage. This is also the relapse prevention stage, a process of constant change of behavior, which can last, for some, a lifetime.
From the research, a timeline of change has emerged. A person in stage 1 will move to stage 3 in an 18-month period. The Parent Center treatment program will be structured to enhance and support movement though the various stages.
The Parent Center will address the psycho/social factors as well as the biological factors, especially in addictions, serious mental illnesses and mental retardation. The treatment team will consist of professionals whose expertise includes stages of human development, normal and abnormal psychology and psychopathology, addictions, aggression, violence, family systems, and understanding of the affects of peers and community and the effect of values upon attitudes and behavior. There will also be a teaching, and research component.
The Parent Center will seek out and train staff to know the dynamics and effects of all forms of child maltreatment and understand how individual, familial and social factors contribute to abusive behavior in order to provide effective clinical intervention.