Mutual Support is a non-profit corporation, operating four residential care and treatment programs as well as a small network of community-based family foster homes. Our programs are structured to provide a continuum of care so that every child placed at Mutual Support can receive nurturing care and treatment in our children's residences, in one of our community-based specialized foster homes, or through after-care supports.
We believe that it is our responsibility to provide an environment that fosters the best possible outcomes for the children and youth in our care. The Mutual Support management team, staff, foster parents, and clinicians provide safe and nurturing environments, the opportunity for each child to experience a secure attachment to a caregiver, programming that builds each child’s capacity to regulate their emotions, become resilient in the face of adversity, and integrate their trauma experiences safely.
Although residents may have coping strategies that are the result of chronic, early developmental trauma, we believe that kids will do well if they can.
We believe in the importance of fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for all people groups. We teach the youth in our care to respect others’ rights, and to see diversity as opportunity to learn about others. We provide experiences for our residents to learn about and experience their own cultural backgrounds and religious/spiritual belief systems.
Our 4 Children's residences are inspired by our 30 year history of providing family-based care. Although our staff no longer live in the residence on a continual basis, they continue to invest deeply in the lives of each and every child. Their understanding of trauma-informed care directs their interventions and approach, in order to create environments that support good outcomes. The children and youth in our programs have often moved through the foster care system or adoption services because of their unique needs. Our homes can be a long term option, providing many of the desired qualities of a family home, or they can be 'home for now'. These 4 residences are co-ed, for children and youth from 6-17.
As youth begin the process of transitioning to adult services, we work with the youth and their home agency to ensure that each youth's unique needs are being met, so that a viable and sustainable program that best meets their needs can be created and delivered in a timely manner.
Our trauma-informed policies, practices, and programs are designed to improve the lived experience of children, through a greater understanding of the effects of chronic, adverse childhood experiences, by creating and supporting positive residential environments that promote caregiver-child attachment, decreases any reliance on physical interventions to manage dysregulated children, and develops the child’s capacity to regulate their own emotions and experience resilience. Trauma-specific, individualized expressive therapy is provided through the Attachment and Trauma Treatment Centre for Healing (ATTCH). We fully recognize that there are many reasons why a child will enter a residential care program. While a specific trauma or protection focus may not be the identified reason for a child or youth entering one our programs, we believe that the knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources required to deliver a trauma-informed program are transferable to all forms of residential care. Our behavioural intervention model is based on currently accepted practices in the field. Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (The Residential Child Care project, Family Life Development Centre, College of Human Ecology Cornell University) forms the basis of all staff interventions with residents. In-service training is provided on a monthly basis to all staff. Safeguards training is offered through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
In partnership with the District School Board of Niagara, Mutual Support operates two Alternate School classrooms at Port Colborne High School. Available to every resident of Mutual Support that requires a high level of support, each student has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) developed by the classroom teacher, and a behavioural support plan created jointly by the DSBN teachers and Mutual Support educational child care staff. Partial integration into public school programs can be facilitated while participating in the Alternate School Program.
Our small network of community-based specialized foster care providers are an integral part of our continuum of care. These dedicated and caring families are an ideal option for the children and youth that require a less intensive setting than our staffed residences.
A turn-key, fee for service solution for children’s aid societies and other placing agencies, designed for youth that were formerly in a Mutual Support program, the goal of this program is to provide community-based support and advocacy on an agency’s behalf to adult clients. Building on the longstanding relationship already in place, Mutual Support can provide rapid deployment of regionally-based, professional, skilled workers to provide after-care to former residents of Mutual Support.