CHIPPS is a specialist attachment-focussed, trauma-informed mental health service for children and young people in care.
Why was CHIPPS set up?
We know that traumatic early experiences, especially those involving maltreatment by primary caregivers, can impact negatively on children and young people’s emotional well-being and affect their physical, psychological and social development.
We know that when children and young people leave their birth families’ care, they may have neurobiological systems which have adapted to cope with neglectful or abusive environments. The coping mechanisms and attachment strategies these children use sometimes do not work as well for them in their new environment and this can lead to difficulties with settling in, forming relationships and feeling safe.
Adverse early experiences and difficult transitions from birth family into care settings can lead to heightened risk for trauma- and attachment-related difficulties for these children and young people. We know from research that children in care are more likely to experience mental health problems than their peers who live with birth parents. These difficulties can persist long into adulthood if the appropriate help and support is not offered in a timely fashion.
What can we do to help?
At CHIPPS we believe that every child in care deserves the opportunity to maximise their emotional wellbeing and to develop and maintain healthy, nurturing relationships with their carers, peers, family members, and the professionals working with them.
We are a team of mental health professionals who offer children and young people support with exploring their journey into care with a view to integrating early adverse experiences into their story and sense of self. We hope to assist children and young people in considering issues that often cause distress such as their identity and sense of belonging. We also offer multiple interventions to treat mental health difficulties they may have due to their care status and the developmental trauma they have experienced.
We believe that relational trauma is most effectively repaired in relationships so our work often involves offering therapeutic input to carers and children together. We also offer interventions for carers alone and, where appropriate, provide direct individual work for young people and children who need their own space to work through their difficulties. We have developed a number of groups for young people and groups for foster carers – allocation to these will be based on presenting difficulties and meeting each child/carer’s needs in the most helpful way. Through offering such interventions, we hope to improve placement stability and help children (and their carers) to develop skills and tools to navigate their journey together and hopefully feel equipped to deal with the challenges that may arise along the way.