If you’re like me, watching the news can be overwhelming and leave us feeling hopeless. Every day we see how families are being stretched to their limits all across the country. Worries about the economy, violence and climate change affect the well-being of parents and children and sometimes the stress is too much. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, support and encouragement for a short time or even long term. So let me tell you a story that will leave you with hope!
Family Focus is here for the long haul, partnering with families in complex circumstances, like Carla Smith (alias). In September 2019, Carla’s two children were ages 2 and 3. She needed help due to violence in the home so the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) became involved, placing the children in foster care to keep them safe. Then Carla was referred to Family Focus for Child-Parent Psychotherapy and case management at our Englewood center, where we have Family Advocates and family therapists specializing in counseling for trauma survivors.
Carla worked hard in therapy to heal herself, set goals toward independence and understand what her children would need when they were reunited. With Carla and the foster parents, the therapist helped them better understand the children’s experience and how trauma can impair cognitive development, behavior, and attachment. Left untreated, these challenges in the first 3 critical years of brain development can have lasting psychological and physiological affects into adulthood, even impacting life expectancy.
Family Focus worked with Carla, her children and the foster parents for 3 years, all through COVID using phone and video meetings. The Family Advocate made sure birthdays were celebrated together, and she coordinated regular in-person visits between Carla and her children to rebuild trust and attachment. The Family Advocate also monitored the younger child for speech delays and stepped in with extra support when both children were quarantined from day care for two weeks.
Carla and her children were reunited in the family home this past June! They are still receiving support from their Family Advocate through December and Carla wants to continue therapy in order to support herself and her kids. She has a job, got a driver’s license and even her own car, and wants to build on this foundation for her family.
These steps may seem minor to some but to Carla, they are monumental. The children have adjusted well to returning home and are enrolled in a local school. Carla continues to build a network of support around her and her children with people she trusts and can rely on in hard times.
I hope Carla’s story leaves you with a smile, some good news happening in the world. This is just one example – out of thousands – of the impact Family Focus team members make in partnership with the families we serve. Families on their path to transformation, parents succeeding, children thriving, communities healing.
You create transformation in someone’s world when you give to Family Focus. Will you lend a helping hand to lift up a family – give them a new start? Thank you for caring about the people who depend on Family Focus.
Wishing you a blessed holiday season.
Dara T. Munson, MPA
President & CEO