Navigating Child Welfare: The Journey Back to Family (Arizona)
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
When Lindsey discovered The Family Involvement Center, she was 25, pregnant and was the parent of two other children who had been in the custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS) the state’s child welfare system.
When Lindsey’s children were taken into care, she and her children were living with relatives. In order for her children to remain with her relatives, Lindsey was required to leave the family home, causing Lindsey to continue her long history of homelessness. She began living in a string of motels, on the street and in the company of people who were using drugs and struggling to survive.
In the beginning, Lindsey had little contact with anyone from DCS. When she would finally reach someone, that person would be replaced by someone else and she would have to start over again. This cycle resulted in delays and Lindsey struggled to engage in her services.
Eventually, the case plan was changed to severance. Tired of living on the street and being subject to violence, Lindsey found housing for pregnant women with substance use disorders. There, Lindsey was finally treated with respect and encouraged to engage in healing services to address the many traumas she had experienced during her life.
Lindsey then found the Family Involvement Center and was assigned a peer parent, Shelby, who saw a person who needed help. Shelby provided Lindsey with support and guidance in navigating the DCS case plan.
During this time, Lindsey made the difficult choice to give her unborn child up for adoption and was met with support throughout the process. Lindsey began attending parenting classes offered by the Family Involvement Center and consistently attended for almost 9 months. She soaked up the information she learned in the classes and began to thrive. She also engaged in Family Treatment Court which provided her with support and guidance within her dependency, and the DCS case plan was changed back to reunification.
Shortly before her oldest children came home, tragedy struck when Lindsey’s long-time boyfriend died. Thanks to her supportive network, she was able make it through his death as well as the reunification of her family.
After Lindsey completed family treatment court, the judge recommended that Lindsey enroll in a new Family Involvement Center program called Parents for Parents. PFP provides peer support to parents who have recently had their children removed from the home by linking them with a parent who was successful in their own DCS case.
That was almost two years ago, and Lindsey continues to provide peer support through the Parents to Parents Program. In September alone, two parents Lindsey supported, whose case plans were severance, have been reunified with their children. Both credit Lindsey for providing them support and walking alongside them through their journeys.
Lindsey is active in her city, seeking changes through the Parent Advisory Board, the Prevention Advisory Collaborative and the Family Navigation Action Team. She has made presentations to the community, the governor’s office and to incoming dependency judges – and is proud to play a role serving her community and contributing to the betterment of child welfare. Lindsey is, to coin a phrase, a real success story!