Brea Sheriff has two girls and a baby boy. Ravan, 5, and Nandi, 4, decked out in matching sundresses, played in the Five Acres playroom and on the play structure outside while 3-month-old Christopher was passed around in the way adorable sleeping babies are.
Brea is one of the mothers who spoke at an event at the Altadena-based Five Acres foster care facility. Like others who spoke there, she is working on bringing her family back together with the help of social workers and others.
Monday we brought you the the story of Erica Ward, who had her family taken away from her by the county, but has managed to bring it back together. Tuesday, we brought you the , who lost her kids after her problems with drug use.
When Brea’s daughters were placed with their grandmother about two years ago, Brea had a hard time accepting their removal. She did not visit the girls for some time and almost lost them permanently. It was when she became pregnant with her son that she realized she needed to do what was necessary to bring her family together. She will regain custody of her children in about a month.
Brea was helped by mentor Tanya Mulligan, a volunteer through who is also a Los Angeles Police officer, who monitored visitations and was able to work with both Brea and the grandmother, and social worker Fawn Frederickson, CSW.
“Our numbers (of children in foster care) have drastically decreased because of these types of programs,” said Kimala Lewis, the MSW and supervisor of the Pasadena office of the Department of Children and Family Services. But there are those families for whom it does not work. For those, “We work from the beginning on an alternate plan if the parent is unable to unify.”
When asked what the problems parents face are, Lewis quickly responded, “Hopelessness.” She added, “Drugs, alcohol, domestic violence. Neglect, young mothers, not having a support system, grief and loss, financial obstacles.” Brea is only 23, Lewis noted, and already has three children age 5 and younger under her care.