This story was selected as a winner during our 2019 Summer Story Contest and was submitted by Shannon Bolter, a KVC Nebraska Intensive In-Home Administrative Supervisor. KVC Nebraska is a private, nonprofit organization providing foster care, home-based support for people with disabilities, and intensive in-home and prevention services to strengthen families. The name of the client in this story has been changed to protect her privacy.
An Uphill Battle
To say my client’s life has been an uphill battle would be an understatement. After Ashley was abandoned by her mother at the age of 10 and left with a neighbor, she was placed in her aunt’s care. One year later she was removed due to her aunt’s substance abuse. This led to her being moved from foster home to foster home and began a cycle of instability.
At 10-years-old, Ashley turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. Starting with prescription drugs, she graduated to meth, cocaine and heroin. Because of her increasingly frequent drug use, she looked for ways to feed her addiction, including stealing. This led to jail time.
She began having children when she was 16. Her first child was adopted by another family and over the next few years that followed, she gave birth to two more children. Those children now live with their biological fathers.
While serving jail time, Ashley gave birth to a fourth child, a daughter. She set up a kinship agreement for a friend to care for her daughter until she was released from prison. Soon after she was released, she gave birth to a son, her fifth child.
Finding Support and Overcoming Obstacles to Build a Better Life
In May 2019, Ashley became one of my Intensive In-Home clients. We thought she would work best with a female that understood addiction, engaged well by using empathy and could be assertive when needed. After reading the referral, I felt I could truly connect with her and provide meaningful support.
When we first met, she was nervous and thought I was there to keep her away from her children. However, beneath all that, I sensed her desire to change her life for the better.
First, I needed to help her understand KVC’s role and how I could help. As an Intensive In-Home Services professional, my job is to help clients overcome life challenges so that their families can safely remain together. We provide these services in their home and at times that are convenient for them as we believe that makes our work together most effective. Some of the ways we work with our clients is by enhancing parenting skills, providing crisis management and helping them form social connections.
I wanted to show Ashley that I valued her as a person and a mother. I gained her trust by focusing on the positive things she was accomplishing. Slowly but surely, Ashley began to see that KVC was offering her a path to a better life.
Little Victories Lead to Big Victories and the Reunification of a Family
The trust and bond we shared allowed my client to feel comfortable and be completely open and honest about her past. During our time together, she learned coping and parenting skills, found strength in her sobriety, and set her children as priorities in her life. By focusing on her strengths and little victories, she began to see progress and two months quickly passed.
Because of the little victories, Ashley is now experiencing big victories. In addition to regaining custody of her two youngest children, she secured a job that helps her provide a stable home for herself and her children! In a recent conversation, she said “I finally feel like I am going to make it. This time, I am going to be OK.”
All families experience tough times. Whether related to substance abuse, trauma, physical or mental illness, or behavioral problems, these challenges can be difficult for families to overcome on their own and can impact a family’s ability to stay safely together. The primary goal of KVC’s Intensive In-Home Services is to keep children safely in their family’s home and to help adults overcome life’s hardships. Our Intensive In-Home Services provide families with crisis management, in-home therapy, skill-building, and connection to community resources.