On Monday, we brought you , one of several families who participated in the Five Acres foster care facility's open house for families who had been reunited with the help of social workers.
Today, we bring you the story of Anna Flores, who had her eldest daughter, 7-year-old Ocean, taken from her at age 3 ½ due to Anna’s drug abuse.
“It took me one week to enroll in dental assistant school,” she said, affirming that losing Ocean was a wake-up call. She started attending Alcoholics Anonymous and has been sober for four years.
Ocean had just been returned to Anna and the father of her second daughter, Desert, now 2, when a domestic violence incident curtailed the plan. Both children were removed from the home and Anna went into housing for victims of domestic violence, not knowing that she was pregnant with Sky, now 9 months.
Both Anna and the younger girls’ father completed parenting classes, opening the way for the children to be returned. The father is now in jail for a DUI, but Anna is continuing to care for the girls and landed a job with Trader Joe’s just two weeks ago.
“Before we remove children, we sit down with the family and talk about a plan to remove the children from risk and allow the children to be in the home,” said Kimala Lewis, the MSW and supervisor of the Pasadena office of the Department of Children and Family Services. “Sometimes we don’t have to remove them, we can put resources in place.”
The family, the department, and the help community outline common goals. This case plan is the most critical component when children are removed under court orders, Lewis said.
“The case plan identifies lacks, issues,” she said. “It gives the parents things to do to improve.”
Compliance with the plan is a determiner of the readiness for the parents to receive the children, and parents have to jump through all the hoops to prove that the children will not be at risk. Most families continue to receive support—“family preservation,” Lewis calls it—when they are reunified. As DCFS transitions the families out, “we put a community in place,” she says.