'I feel helpless': Labrador mother pleads for support for 9-year-old with behaviour issues

1 / 3
'I feel helpless': Labrador mother pleads for support for 9-year-old with behaviour issues

A mother in Happy Valley-Goose Bay whose nine-year-old daughter has been acting out is pleading for help from government agencies, but says so far, there hasn't been any.

"My little girl needs help and I feel helpless," Christine Saunders Crane told the CBC. "She's having behaviour problems that I can't control and it's getting more aggressive and more frequent."

Saunders Crane said her daughter, Taylor, started lashing out after her father died suddenly in October 2016.

"Taylor was just screaming, pushing the table around. The kids didn't want to sit and eat because she was acting that way," said Saunders Crane, adding she's concerned how Taylor's outbursts are affecting her other three children.

"She wouldn't stop until 8 o'clock ... when she finally went to her grandpa's for the night, so that was a break, calm things down for the other kids."

Saunders Crane said she's begged for someone to someone to come and help but was told she needs to take her daughter to the hospital.

She said doctors have referred Taylor to counselling on several occasions. She's been told she is at the top of the list to see a counsellor but that has yet to happen. A recent appointment was cancelled.

"I've taken her to the emergency a few times and they say it sounds like a social worker issue," Saunders Crane said, "I've called social services crying and while I'm on the phone with them they can hear Taylor in the background [saying] 'I want to kill myself, I want to die, I want to go be with my dad.'"

Labrador-Grenfell Health said it uses a classification system to determine who gets priority to mental health and addictions services. In emergencies that could be immediately or within 30 calendar days, but it also said "the length of time a client may wait to receive service includes increased rates of referrals and staffing challenges."

Nowhere to turn

Saunders Crane wants Taylor to see a behaviour specialist, someone who could come into their home and work with her, but she's told the service is only available in child protection cases.

"My view of it, because I'm a good mom, my child is being denied help," Saunders Crane said.

"That's what [they're] there for, to help. [They're] educated with children, [they] know how to handle and cope with kids' behaviours like this. I don't. It's new to me and I'm a parent asking for help."

The Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development (CSSD) responded to questions from the CBC through email.

It said it does have a behavior management program which provides "services to children and adolescents, teaches parenting skills, crisis management skills, and provides consultative services to staffed residential settings."

While it does not provide services to children who are not need of protection, the department said it will often connect parents to community programs that could help meet their needs.

"I'm wanting her to get help now and not years from now when it could be too late," Saunders Crane said.