Zero to Three, a national peer-reviewed academic journal, features a story in its July 2014 issue on SaintA’s work with the Parents Interacting With Infants (PIWI) program. PIWI seeks to promote better mother-child interaction, to enhance healthy brain development and break the cycle of abuse. Our Independent Living Services brought PIWI last year to a group of young-mother clients and their babies.
The story, written by the two PIWI facilitators, Lana Nenide and Staci Sontoski, says: “SaintA, one of the largest providers of family centered care and education services and the leader of trauma informed care in the state of Wisconsin, recognized the need to provide supports to young parents who are aging out of their foster care system. As part of the innovative practices, they selected the PIWI framework and partnered with the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant and Mental Health to offer a series of parent-infant groups.” The writers say they strongly believe PIWI is particularly valuable to young people with their own histories of trauma.
“This story is not only beautifully written, it clearly details the importance of the PIWI program and why we brought it to our ILS clients,” said SaintA President and CEO Teri Zywicki. “We are so pleased with this national recognition, and, more important, with the success our clients achieved through this program.”
The story intersperses a wealth of information, charts, graphics and references on the importance of early relationships to brain development and a child’s well-being with small story bites about the progress of one ILS mother and her children and how she was served at SaintA. She started as a pregnant young mother with a 2 ½- year-old daughter who really was not interested in participating. This young mom progressed to one whom a Residential staff member, checking on noise, found loudly playing and giggling with her new baby boy.
“This is the same mother who, just a few months ago, was not sure whether she was going to keep the baby or place him for adoption. This is the same mother who was disconnected and uninvolved. This mother is able to love, find joy, and create the beautiful moments of connection with her son that are so essential for his well-being,” the story says.
The piece concludes with this:
“It takes a community to raise a child, and it takes a community of professionals to implement a successful intervention strategy. This project would not be possible without the financial support of the Wisconsin Children’s Trust fund and the dedication of competent and visionary SaintA staff.
“However, our deepest appreciation and admiration goes to the mothers: the mothers who came consistently to the groups, who trusted us to try new things, who were able to share their worries, struggles and successes of motherhood, the mothers who sincerely wanted to be different from the mothers they had growing up, and we have good evidence to believe they will be.”