SafeCare program helps parents, children with increased risk

With her perfect lifestyle, it seemed as if Brooke had everything.

The former model, the mother of two beautiful little girls, presented a glamorous façade for the outside world.

But in reality she struggled with dealing with everyday tasks.

"I hit a brick wall a bit in terms of my emotions," Brooke told ABC's Four Corners.

& # 39; I think if you suppress a lot of it, you … in a sense will blow if it keeps on developing. There is a point. There is a limit.

"I was absolutely in a dark place and even on my mind, I think that when my thoughts started getting worse, I knew there was a problem."

Brooke, from the Penrith in Sydney, is one of the parents across Australia who participates in SafeCare, an intensive education program.

The program, the ABC Corners reports, is intended for children between zero and five years of age who are at risk of being abused or neglected.

It takes more than 18 to 20 weeks with a specially trained SafeCare worker who visits the home and teaches parents skills from three modules: health, safety and parent-child relationships.

Brooke & # 39; s caseworker Louise Vincin, who works for the Wesley mission, says that Brooke, with her original home and designer clothing, "may not look like an average family that would be referred to SafeCare".

But the young mother of Peyton, four and Taylor, three, struggled with suicidal thoughts and was treated in the hospital for her psychological problems.

"She is pretty beautiful and glamorous and she has been in a top modeling program – her house is really different from some other houses we go to, and she presents you as if you were wondering why she is in the SafeCare program.

"So I think it really only emphasizes that there is often a lot going on among the families we work with and in their lives."

Brooke told Four Corners that her obsession with cleaning was "a form of habit that distracted me from the chaotic things around me".

"The cleaning has been absolutely a way, I would not say that most children are avoided, but it is easy to say," OK. I have to start cleaning, & instead of having to sit a bit with them or, I think, pay attention to them. So it is easier to do something that makes you more comfortable. "

Brooke told Four Corners that she hit the bottom in her darkest moments.

"I certainly had thoughts about checking out, and I remember having locked myself in the laundry room and told my girlfriend," I can not. "I'm done with life. I can not handle it. & # 39;

"And I'd notice that I had panic attacks in the car, I'd have to stop, I'd notice that I screamed, just screamed … The only way out was … check out."

Created by her SafeCare employee that she was no longer a risk to her children, Brooke told Four Corners that she felt that she had come a long way.

"I would say that I did pretty well, I think, you know, see where I come from where I was crazy last year."

In Victoria & # 39; s Rosebud also the single parent Amber participates. The mother of Nara and Roman told Four Corners that she had registered with SafeCare to give herself the best chances to acquire the skills she needed.

"I was not instructed to follow this course," she told Four Corners. "I chose this course because you choose to improve yourself for your children, you choose to make … you want a better life."

The case employee of Amber, Bev, said there was no sign of neglect in the household. Instead, there was a lack of structure.

Bedtime was the worst, Amber told Four Corners.

"This place was a bomb site, I had pillows and doonas and foam mattresses on the floor of the living room, because I could not get the kids to sleep.

"I could not get them for my life, I was trying." There were times when we would still be awake at two, three, and the worst was five in the morning.

"I did not think I was good enough, because how do I make sure my babies sleep? If I do not get my baby to go to bed and go to bed, I should not be good enough The anxiety that would result from it would be a nightmare before bedtime. & # 39;

Bev has instructed Amber on establishing rules for Nara and Roman and managing their behavior when they give out tantrums.

"We were out on the streets last week and I let a lady stop us, it was wonderful to get some nice reactions from an unknown person to tell how beautiful my children were and how well behaved," Amber told Four Corners.

"Fourteen weeks ago this was not the case, fourteen weeks ago they were demon spawn."

Bev says that Amber now has more confidence as a parent.

"That will help the development of the children," she said.

Amber told the ABC when her trust grew, she can see how the SafeCare program has changed their lives.

"I do not think my children will become socially retarded, as they would have ever been before," she said.

If you or someone you love is in crisis or needs support right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636. In case of emergency, call 000.

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