2014 Blog Entries
The Joy of the Season
Doug White, LCSW, Director of Community Programs, on 12/30/2014
Karen is 17 years old and has been in and out of treatment services since she was 7 years old. She came to us while living with relatives in Anchorage, until she became too difficult for them and she was admitted to Treatment Foster Care. She was perpetually in crisis and almost constantly in interpersonal conflicts that proved exhausting for her care givers. Her Mother had a serious mental illness and problems with substance abuse and her father was not involved. OCS attempted to reunify but when that failed she came back to live in Alaska with her previous Treatment Foster Parent, where she has been now for the past 2.5 years. Karen is now a senior in high school, with the help of her treatment team and the Sylvan Learning Center, she will graduate in the spring. She is now on the DD Waiver and preparing for assisted living and supportive employment. With the help of her case manager she has reinitiated contact with her relatives in Anchorage. Her moods are more stable and she is less often in conflict with others.
Rick is a 10 year old boy in the foster care system. He came to us while placed in an OCS home. His mother lives out of the country and has no contact. His father, an immigrant with limited English ability, lived out of state and had recently been released from prison. Rick had problems in his OCS foster home due to his inability to trust care givers and was placed in a Treatment Foster home. His Case Manager and Therapist reached out to his father and helped him relocate to Anchorage to be near his 3 children and work on reunification. Both case manager and therapist, being fluent Spanish speakers, were able to build trust with him and work to advocate with OCS to pursue reunification. With special funding we were able to purchase him winter clothes so he could work. We were also able to purchase a gift certificate at Denny’s so father and his 3 children could enjoy a Christmas Eve meal together, the first time Rick can remember. We will continue to work with OCS to reunify this family.
Ryan is a 13 year old boy that had been in an OCS pre-adoptive placement and receiving home based services for about 3 years. He had a large team with alternative placement options and some differences of opinion on the treatment team. His case manager was able to skillfully navigate these miscommunications and support the pre-adoptive parents. His therapist, even though she left the agency, continued working in individual and family therapy. He was just adopted 2 weeks ago – by all accounts it was a beautiful celebration and they are all very happy.
Laura is a 16 year old now living with her biological family in Anchorage and receiving home-based services. She came to AK Child & Family to Treatment Foster Care after residential treatment in Fairbanks. Her therapist worked hard on a co-parenting model between the parents and Treatment Foster Parents to address a negative interactional pattern, with recurrent aggressive episodes, that was keeping her from returning home. After 9 months and a lot of focus on family dynamics with the team, Laura is home again, in school and her family is enjoying a more peaceful life together.
Chelsea is 20 years old and has been receiving services for three years. She struggled with substance abuse, suicidal ideations, depression and self-harm. Due to instability in her family dynamics she chose to move to a group home after living in the Covenant House for several months. Once admitted to the group home she was able to learn independent living skills necessary to help her be a productive adult in society. She desired independence, stability, and structure in her life. She was successful in the group home and decided she would transition to home based services and move out on her own. She quickly realized she did not yet have the financial skills necessary to support herself and readmitted into the group home. With the help of a treatment parent, two case managers, activity therapy, a therapist, and supports in the community she was able to maintain stability and secure enough funds to obtain her own home. She has expanded her community resources and supports to the point of feeling successful to discharge from home based services. She is raising a healthy baby girl and has repaired relationships with her family. She says, “I still struggle sometimes, but that’s part of being an adult.”
These are the stories that we help to make happen every day. It is what brings us to do the work and keeps us here – knowing that with our support and caring – young people and their families will have a more peaceful and purposeful existence. That’s something to celebrate!