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Early Childhood Services Support Parents

Monday, July 24, 2017

Toby was born prematurely at 30 weeks, and weighed just 3 lbs., 10 oz. at birth. He spent several weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At 3 months old, Toby was still underweight, and was dealing with other health and developmental problems, including Down syndrome and an intestinal condition.

Toby lives with his parents and two older sisters. Toby’s mom, Maria, is an immigrant who has had a hard time adjusting to life in America. Maria struggled with depression for many years. She doesn’t speak English, nor does she drive, and she often feels isolated from activities outside of her home. Maria also suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her second daughter.

Maria and her husband were thrilled to find out she was pregnant with a son. Some of the happiness decreased when Toby was born early and diagnosed with multiple health and developmental concerns, though. They weren’t prepared to parent a child with special needs. Maria felt she needed help attaching to and parenting Toby. She said, “I feel like a new mother. Toby needs constant attention. I have to learn a new way to parent.”


A bilingual clinician in the Early Childhood department at Arbor Circle worked with Maria, Toby, and the rest of their family. Through psycho-therapy, they were able to reduce Maria’s symptoms of depression and strengthen the relationship between Toby and his parents. The clinician also worked with Toby’s primary care physician and public health nurse, and provided guidance to enhance Toby’s overall growth and development. Today, Maria feels more confident in her parenting skills and has a better understanding of Toby’s development. She feels closer with all of her children, and believes they have become a stronger family as a whole.

At Arbor Circle, Infant Mental Health (IMH) is the foundation of our Early Childhood Services. IMH is a successful approach that recognizes the critical importance of a secure and nurturing relationship between a baby and his or her parents. This relationship affects the social, emotional and cognitive well-being of children. The central question that drives the IMH therapist is, “What about the baby?” IMH puts babies first. The IMH therapist acts as the voice for the baby, and helps the parents navigate their new and sometimes challenging relationship with their child.

Each year, Arbor Circle’s Early Childhood staff works with nearly 400 families like Toby’s. With clinicians endorsed by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, our team builds strong, therapeutic relationships with caregivers in their home or a convenient location, getting to know their strengths, needs and anxieties. Through counseling and other supportive services, parents learn more about themselves and their children, discover new ways to build relationships with their infants, and receive guidance for a variety of behavioral concerns.

Arbor Circle believes becoming a strong family can be a rewarding journey for parents, and a life-changing one for children. Most of our Early Childhood services are offered free of charge, or are covered by Medicaid or MI-Child.

Learn more about our Early Childhood services here.