Learning to Be Brave
Hallie was just four years old when the Department of Children and Family Services removed her from her home. While the specific trauma she experienced is unknown, she now has the support and love that enable her to create new, happy childhood memories.
When she was first detained, Hallie received an assessment by the Multidisciplinary Assessment Team, which is a partnership with the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Mental Health and community providers like Prototypes. This comprehensive assessment helps determine foster home placement and additional services children like Hallie might need.
After one foster care placement did not work out, Hallie was place with another foster home. At four and a half, she didn’t speak at all and had a lot of tantrums. “She also used to be extremely shy and would not be okay with surprise changes or not knowing how her day would be planned out,” noted Evelyn Escalona, MSW, Senior Clinician at Prototypes who has been Hallie’s therapist since September 2013.
Through the children’s mental health services at Prototypes’ Pasadena Outpatient Behavioral Health Center, Hallie received the dedicated support of Evelyn. Not only did Hallie have weekly one-on-one sessions first at her home and then at school, but Evelyn also provided her foster mom at the time, Heather, with tools and knowledge on how to help Hallie communicate what she was feeling.
“The hardest part was her tantrums and self-harm she would attempt. I would have to restrain her for hours,” shared Heather.
Evelyn also advocated for Hallie’s best interest and helped Heather navigate the foster care system. With this support, Heather and Hallie developed a very strong bond. In November 2014 Heather adopted Hallie, which was a huge turning point in her life.
“Now, she is more emotionally stable, happy and willing to help others,” said Evelyn. Hallie has learned to put words to how she is feeling and can ask Heather for what she needs. She used to run and hide when anyone new came to the door. She also refused to look in mirrors or take pictures. At the end of her last school year, Hallie received the “most friendliest award.”
“Evelyn plays with me and makes me feel happy,” smiled Hallie. “When she talks to me, she tells me it’s okay to be sad. Evelyn taught me to be brave.”
“Evelyn has been the support I needed,” shared Heather. “She gave me the tools to help Hallie.”
When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Hallie responded, “I want to help people, like Evelyn.”