10.1 Tan Kinship Case Study

Tan Kinship Case Study

three children
Photo by Keren Fedida  Unsplash License

The Tan family comprises a mother, a father and three children in the home. There are additional half-siblings and stepsiblings in this family, but they are older and living independently or with extended family members. The mother is Grace, and the father is Anthony. The children include Emily (12), Ella (7) and Mark (5).

The kinship family is a maternal aunt and uncle, Faith and Sean Doyle. They have three adult children who live independently.

Current Situation:

The three Tan children have recently been placed with their maternal aunt and uncle, Faith and Sean after the Tan family experienced extreme strain and loss throughout the COVID pandemic. Prior to the initially mandated shutdowns, the family was managing effectively. They had two businesses and owned their home. The financial strain became overwhelming as the pandemic continued, and the family business was regularly closed. The Tan family was forced to close both businesses, the bank foreclosed on the house, and the family was now facing homelessness. The parents, who have historically struggled with depression, both started feeling hopeless. In an attempt to avoid their feelings and reality, the parents started drinking the occasional drink after the children were in bed but quickly progressed to excessive drinking mixed with drug use. The parents were now always sleeping during the day, and the children were unsupervised and not attending virtual schooling.

With the children not attending school and lacking structure, the children showed the strain of the environment. On one occasion, Mark was injured when jumping on the family couch and falling onto the coffee table, splitting his head open. Ella sought out her parents for help; however, neither parent was capable of attending to the injury at the time due to intoxication from drugs and alcohol. Emily managed the wound by putting pressure on it with toilet paper. She dressed the wound with masking tape with a wad of toilet paper. Emily describes the wound as taking two days to stop bleeding fully.

In addition to the injury, Mark presents as whiny and demanding, requiring to be carried by Emily, while Ella appears to disengage, spending excessive time laying on the couch watching TV. Ella is not always aware if the channel is changed. Emily has taken on the role of caregiver in the absence of her parents by helping her siblings. Emily is always watchful, trying to anticipate and meet her parents’ needs to keep the family safe. She is frustrated and sometimes takes out her anger on her siblings by using excessive punishment, such as hitting. Without the involvement of the parents, the younger children are powerless to protect themselves.

The drug use started to impact the mother, Grace, who became paranoid, insisting that no one was to leave the home and that curtains and blinds were to be closed at all times. No one was allowed in the home, and the children were not allowed to play with friends.

By this time, Grace had started using Fentanyl regularly, which resulted in a psychotic break; she was seen chasing her oldest daughter down the street as she believed her daughter was being chased by an intruder in the home. Neighbours called first responders and the Children’s Aid Society which is when the children spoke of their aunt Faith and uncle Sean.

All three children are now registered back in school; however, each child is coping and managing in different ways.

Emily: Emily has a good relationship with Faith and has identified that Faith has been a source of support in the past. She understands the necessary move to her Aunt and Uncle’s to protect herself and her siblings from the difficulty they were experiencing at home. She has agreed to attend counselling if necessary.


Ella: While Ella disengaged at home, she adjusted well into Faith and Sean’s home. She is an easygoing child who has perked up being in the home of her favourite Aunt Faith.  She is happy to be back to virtual learning and sharing her life with Aunt Faith. The structure is helping her thrive.


Mark: Mark still wants to be held by Emily and doesn’t understand why they moved and asks when they are going back. He is not comfortable reaching out to Aunt Faith or Uncle Sean and has had an aggressive episode daily since arriving at their place. Mark struggles with virtual learning and turns off the computer to go and find his sister.


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Child Maltreatment: An Introductory Guide With Case Studies Copyright © 2023 by Susan Loosley and Jen Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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