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Read Manchester's story courtesy of the Early Intervention Foundation's, "Early intervention into action series of case studies on innovation and evaluation".
Case study 1
A 13-year-old boy L was referred to a London MST team because of:
Daily cannabis use and dealing in cannabis on behalf of adult gang members, including dealing from the family home.
Excluded from school and previous school non-attendance and concerns about him taking drugs into school and creating a gang culture there.
Missing from home overnight three or four times a week and for up to a month at a time, involvement in robberies with adult offenders.
Concern for the safety of L and his family following threats from adult gang members.
An MST therapist worked intensively with the family, visiting two or three times a week, for five months to build the parents’ confidence and skills in re-establishing authority with their sons and in their own home. Therapist and parents together were able to work on all concerns, rather than L being seen individually by a number of agencies for different issues. The therapist supported parents to take a very proactive approach when L was missing or brought strangers to the house. This involved close collaboration with the police, local shopkeepers and housing wardens. Parents also introduced drug testing for L and his two brothers alongside strong consequences for ‘dirty’ tests, support from extended family for this approach and encouragement of contact with a more positive peer group for L.
At the end of the intervention L and his brothers had tested clean for drugs for over two months, L was sticking to the curfew set by his family and mixing with a more positive peer group. Parents reported that they now felt in control of their own home and that they would be able to tackle future problems themselves. L was also back in school full time.
Case study 2
‘A’ was referred to MST from Social Care when he was 13. All of the children in the family were subject to a Child Protection Plan and the family had received a number of other intensive services. The mother suffers with diabetes and depression and struggled to set boundaries with the children. There had been over 100 calls to the police reporting the children missing, so the overarching goals for the MST intervention were for A to refrain from going missing for a period of 4 weeks and for him to return home on time for a period of 4 weeks. The MST Therapist identified that there were low levels of supervision and monitoring by the mother and together they developed a plan around coming in times including what steps to follow if the boys did not come home. It was also identified that there was a lack of information about where the boys were going, which needed to be addressed by gathering information before they went out about where they were going, what they were doing, who they were with and what time they would be home. Consequences were also put in place if the boys did come home late, which were jointly agreed. The way the mother managed her diabetes was also improved by speaking to her GP and identifying what factors were getting in the way of managing her diabetes effectively. The key outcomes at the end of the MST intervention were that A had not been missing over night for over 14 weeks, he had been coming home on time each evening on the majority of occasions, he had been attending school regularly where he was receiving very positive reports.