We understand and accept that each child has inherent and learned weakness, that they have been tainted by Sin and, to some extent, are products of their “fallen” environment. However, we purposely choose to focus on a child’s strengths instead of weakness, the positives instead of the negatives, and the good instead of the bad.
We also believe that the child and their family are active, not passive, participants in their own helping process. We emphasize strengths as a way to foster motivation for growth. We assess their God-given assets to develop informed, achievable objectives for every plan of care. Every child and family that comes to any of our ministries for help must be enabled to make their own changes. We can’t make people change. Nevertheless, we believe that the empowerment necessary to make that decision comes from valuing oneself, having achievable goals, and creating a plan to reach those goals that has real potential to be successful. We also believe that process is immeasurably more likely to occur when aided by spiritual means and practices.
“Change your thinking, change your life” summarizes the approach we take at Patrick Henry Family Services. We believe behaviors flow from attitudes and attitudes are the natural by-products of a person’s thought-life. If we can effectively change the way an individual unproductively thinks about themselves, others, and how the world works, we can constructively modify the way that person treats themselves, acts toward others, and ultimately succeed in the world.
This Strength Based Philosophy motivates our ministry and guides every aspect of our programming. It, of course, stands in stark contrast to the medically oriented disease and pathology models that so permeates today’s juvenile treatment centers. We believe this strategy is not only more optimistic in its outlook but it’s also more closely aligned with biblical teaching and basic common sense.
At Patrick Henry we believe that every child has the right to be viewed as a person capable of changing, growing and becoming positively connected to a community no matter what types of behaviors or challenges they have. We believe that they have a right to participate in the selection of services that will build on their gifts and mitigate their flaws.
We believe that children have a right to contribute things they are good at and other strengths in all assessment and treatment processes. They also have a right, we believe, to have their resistance viewed as a message that the wrong approach may be being used with them. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with this child?” We ask, “What happened to this child?” That does not, however, dissolve the child of the responsibility for their poor behavior. We believe real transformation begins with accountability. But, this shift from the individual to the individual’s behavior helps us to see them as a child with a problem rather than as a “problem child.”
We also believe that focusing on a person’s past has some merit but it’s ultimately not the solution. Our interventions are more future oriented. We believe in a helping process that concentrates on the real possibilities that lie ahead rather than on what did or did not happen before. It is our well-founded conviction, yea our mission, to give children and families a future bursting with hope. We do that by giving them essential resources to be successful. If we manage to accomplish this then their history no longer has consequence.
At Patrick Henry we believe children have the right to learn from their mistakes and to have support to learn that mistakes don’t really mean failure. We believe that before a person can forgive others (something every person must learn in order to be emotionally healthy) they must first learn to forgive themselves. We also believe that we should view their maladaptive or antisocial behaviors as a lack of skills, or faulty coping mechanisms, and that they can acquire the skills and adaptive tools needed to alter their life for the better.
We believe that children have the right to experience success and to have support connecting their previous successes to positive future goals. We also believe they have the right to have their culture and gender included as a strength and obtain services which honors and respects their culture and gender.
At Patrick Henry we believe that children have a right to be helped by professionals who view youth positively (by adults who actually like them), and to be served by caring individuals who understand that motivating children and youth is related to successfully tapping into their inner strengths. We believe that connection precedes correction and that those serving young people must first “earn the right to be heard.” We also believe that they have the right not to be talked down to or to be talked about in a disparaging manner. They have a right to confidentiality and to have all communication about them to be constructive.
Children have a right, we believe, to always have their family involved in their experience in a way that acknowledges and supports their strengths as well as their deficits and that they have a right to stay connected to their family no matter what types of challenges they face. It’s our conviction that the best family for any child is their own family, the best home is their own home. Therefore we make it our top priority to return children to their home and restore them to their family if at all possible and as soon as possible.
At Patrick Henry Family Service we believe that all children everywhere have the right to be viewed and treated as a redeemable resource, a potential leader, and a success of the future. We furthermore believe that children have a right to be regarded and treated as more than a commodity, a statistic, a stereotype, a risk score, a diagnosis, a label or a pathology. We believe that they have a right to a future free of institutional or systems involvement and to evidence-based services which most centrally and progressively focuses on their successful transition from institutions.
We steadfastly believe that all children have promise, that they are fully capable of becoming kind, thoughtful, and productive citizens. But, we also believe that does not happen without purposeful guidance, consistent discipline, and lots of moral instruction. Children should be taught to respect others, to work and contribute, to be responsible, and to be a person of good character and strong principles.
Lastly, and most importantly, we strongly believe that children have both the basic human need and the God-given right to know without a doubt that they are loved, that they are wanted, that they are somebody and belong to somebody. Children thrive and prosper, we believe, only when they are secure in that knowledge and feel completely safe to be themselves, warts and all.