PERSPECTIVE | Social Worker: Don’t Give Up On Our Families!
Family Partners Programme (FPP) Social Worker: Zhang Chen
Interviewed by David Bondy, FPP Development Manager
Zhang Chen and her daughter Yaoyao reached out to FPP ten years ago. Through the programme, Yaoyao’s health condition improved and Chen, seeing the results in the quality of care provided to her daughter, gave her support to ICC. In addition to her role of being a mother, she is now working as a FPP social worker, sharing hope and encouragement with other families using her own personal experience.
I have a lovely daughter, Yaoyao. In 2010, I brought her to FPP Services Centre to receive therapy. Until she was four years old, we had always brought her to government-funded facilities to receive treatment. Back then we had never heard that a free programme like FPP existed in Changsha. The FPP team warmly welcomed us and gave my daughter an initial assessment. We then made arrangements to start treatment and therapy.
Over the next three to four months, my daughter’s condition significantly improved as we became more involved in FPP activities. It has been almost ten years now. We regularly participate in summer camps, parent support groups, and the local farm tours. Attending these events brought us a lot of joy and encouragement personally and also to my family. We are very happy here.
Social worker Chen (middle) with her daughter Yaoyao (left) attending a special education session at FPP a few years ago.
“Our children may be born with disabilities, but they are still our angels and we love them wholeheartedly. We have to unite and not give up on our children. Together we help care for the children.”
FPP services have helped me connect with other parents as well. The FPP Development Manager encouraged me to consider joining the FPP team, to support the parents and caregivers, while helping my daughter to overcome the challenges of her disabilities.
In March 2018, I was offered a role within the FPP team. In addition to being a mother with a child that attends FPP services, I became a social worker in the programme. Right now, I am responsible for liaising with families on home visits, helping with family counselling and involved in the planning of activities and events.
When I first started, I didn’t believe that I could do this job and take care of my child who has special needs, because I lacked the professional qualification and knowledge in this field. Since joining the FPP team in 2018, I have attended over ten related professional training courses and take every opportunity to learn while working on individual cases. That has been extremely helpful for me as I don’t have the background of a typical social worker.
When they first arrive, children usually tend to be shy and are not used to communicating with others. I feel that the parents have a similar mindset, they think because their children have special needs or a disability, they won’t behave the same way as other children. So we do our best in helping them understand the level of support FPP would provide, letting them know they don’t need to be afraid or overconcerned.
“We hope to walk alongside these families, help them accept their children’s conditions, help them see that every child is an angel and they deserve to be loved and cared for by their parents.”
Seeing the young people and parents grow with confidence as we serve and support them, I also feel that my work becomes purposeful. The workload can be heavy and complicated, but because everything we do is for the families and children, they make it all worthwhile!
FPP team celebration of Yaoyao’s birthday recently with Zhang Chen (3rd left) and Yaoyao (4th right).
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