Within families, children rely on their parents for essential training that will help them grow into productive adults. Primary socialization occurs within the family, with children taking cues from their parents about appropriate behaviors within different contexts. Children also learn from parents’ responses what situations are safe and unsafe and tend to model their behaviors after their parents’ actions. The children that come to Children’s Hope Residential Services come from abusive and neglectful homes, either maladaptive behaviors adopted from their interactions with family or with no model for behavior because of their severe neglect. Children’s Hope provides a relationship-based model of intervention that allows these children develop the building blocks for later healthy adult lives.
Children’s Hope provides activities that fit into the definition of Preparation for Adult Living (PAL). PAL activities at Children’s Hope are presented in both explicitly and implicitly. Explicit PAL activities include specific programs that children actively participate during set times of the day or week. Informal PAL activities include standards of behavior that are modeled for children and are set as expectations for children to follow.
An example of an explicit PAL activity is the Kid’s Choice Program. This program works with a different group of children each month. Children meet once a week and discuss food and nutrition. The children learn about the different food groups, portioning, protein vs. Carbohydrates, etc. The children then set about planning one meal for the coming week with their new knowledge.
Examples of implicit PAL activities include cleaning up the house after an activity, saying please and thank you, doing laundry, etc. These are things that the staff at Children’s Hope model for children. Staff teach children how to use a washer and dryer, how much soap to use, how full to fill the machine with clothing, etc. Children learn from watching the staff, asking questions, and occasionally assisting
In addition to the examples above, Children’s Hope provides daily living exercises for house. Children work in groups to complete the assigned exercises which often include examples of how to balance a checkbook, applying for a job, renting an apartment, writing a grocery list, etc… These exercises require critical thinking, forethought, and goals setting. They also engage children in thinking about the future, something most have never had the opportunity or desire to do before.
While Children’s Hope offers Preparation for Adult Living as a necessity for children to become successful adults and active members of society, PAL offers more to abused and neglected children. For instance, during daily living exercises many children start to talk about what they want to be when they grow up, the things they want to do and have. PAL teaches them that they can dream of a better life, that there is a different way to live than they have seen. That may be the most important lesson of all.