There are many important reasons as to why society needs to place more emphasis on safeguarding and educating our children. Children rely on adults for warmth, food, housing, primary socialization and safety. More than that, how we treat today’s children will have a lasting effect on the character of tomorrow’s leaders, business people and policy makers. If humankind hopes for a positive future, they will have to provide a healthy environment for today’s children. James Aldrich understands this need well. As CEO of Children’s Hope Residential Services, he recognizes that, although children are incredibly resilient, they are sponges soaking up information and cues from their environment. Abusive and neglectful homes teach children maladaptive behaviors and expectations. The programs at Children’s Hope meet all children’s needs, provide positive examples of behavior and relationship types, and set children up to have realistic expectations.
Children’s Hope provides children the necessities for daily life. They receive healthy meals and snacks. They are given a place to sleep and store their personal belongings, and are allowed to personalize that space. They are provided with toiletries and appropriate clothing for the season, be it winter, spring, summer or fall. They are provided with routine medical, dental and vision checkups, receive medication as required, and are provided first aid when needed.
In addition to the above basic needs, Children’s Hope Residential Services provides relationship-based intervention. At Children’s Hope, relationship skills, contexts for appropriate behaviors, and types of relationships are discussed, modeled by staff, and practiced by the children. Goals are set and shared with children about their understanding of relationships, their strengths and weaknesses in different areas of relationship formation, and additional skills are modeled. These relationship skills are vital in allowing children to recognize nuances in information being presented by the other member in the relationship, recognizing when something isn’t quite right or they need to adjust their behavior based on the other person’s cues.
Understanding relationships is key to developing realistic expectations. At Children’s Hope, Residential Services children become adept at understanding appropriate expectations within different types of relationships. Some of these expectations are the types of hopes a child would have of a parent’s behavior, such as receiving a gift on their birthday. Others are knowledge of what to expect in more formal settings, like what types of questions are appropriate for a job interview, how much information to share when an acquaintance asks how you are.
Through the programs at Children’s Hope Residential Services, children’s relationship skills are strengthened and they begin to develop realistic expectations of themselves and their surroundings. These are the building blocks for future aspirations including family, education and career. Children revise their value system, replacing their abusive and neglectful experiences with the more consistent and stable background they received from Children’s Hope.