justine standing with a horse

In 2013, my daughter Justine, who was 7 years at the time, came from foster care to live with me as her newly adoptive mother. After a brief honeymoon period, explosive behaviours began both at home and at school. Her actions were aggressive, dangerous to herself and others, and her language was threatening and violent. At school, the behaviours became so intense and frequent that she could no longer be in the classroom and spent her day 1-1 with an Educational Assistant. The behaviours continued to escalate and she became unmanageable at home and school. I was at my wit’s end, and became in crisis along with my daughter, and this is what led us to Woodview.

In September 2014, Justine started the Halton Intensive treatment Program (HIP) at Woodview, and in-home support was put in place for me. It took Justine time to allow herself to explore her overwhelming feelings in her new environment, but once she did the staff were able to really get in deep and do their work with her. The atmosphere at Woodview is warm, open and accepting, and I believe that my daughter felt safe enough to explode knowing that she would be in competent hands. She started learning strategies to cope with her huge feelings, and a new self-esteem started developing. At home she started to communicate her fears and needs. She would tell me what strategy she was using to cope and why. She learned to identify triggers and catch herself before she exploded. I couldn’t believe the change! At home, I was getting support from a CYW from Woodview. He would listen to me, empathize, and offer strategies to deal with my daughter and my own feelings. Home life, for the first time was starting to stabilize. And, hope was restored.

Justine was able to graduate from the Halton Intensive Day Treatment Program and transitioned back to our local neighbourhood school in May 2014. Again, through this transition, the Woodview staff assisted and supported Justine and I, as well as the staff at her new school to ensure that all supports were in place. Erika, Justine’s main worker at Woodview, came to her new school to check in with both Justine and the staff, and to offer any support and/or education. Again, I was in awe of the holistic magnificence of the Woodview HIP program and the dedication of the HIP team.

It is summer holidays 2015, and my daughter has attended a 1 week sleepover horse camp and had an amazing time. This would have been unthinkable last summer before the HIP program. She hasn’t had a violent outburst in over 8 months. And, she has a sparkle in her eye and a sweet skip in her step that wasn’t there before. Just the other day Justine went out for lunch with two of her workers in the HIP program whom she adores. The staff go over and above anything I’ve ever seen before. The HIP program at Woodview was a life-changer for us. The program and staff are beyond amazing, and I am forever grateful for all they have done for my daughter and I.