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Karen lost her two teenage children to state custody. “My son was having some pretty dangerous behavioral outbursts,” she says. “I needed some help.” She got that help from Kelly, a family educator at The Family Place, after she was referred to the center by the state Department for Children and Families (DCF).
“Kelly came once a week, to the house,” Karen says. “We did a lot of talking. When your kids are in custody of the state, there are a lot of things you need to follow through on, to accomplish, to show them you can be a good parent, that you can take care of your family.”
“Kelly worked with me for well over a year. She went with me to meetings at my son’s school, she helped get him into an alternative school program, she went with me to meetings at DCF. She would call to remind me of meetings. She gave me a lot of information. She was there for emotional support, too.
“I was very comfortable with her,” Karen adds. “She has a way — you can see she has a love for families and children. I never felt her judging me, she just worked with me. She said, ‘I realize how hard things are. We’ll work on this. We’ll get through this together. You’re a strong woman, you can do it. Just do all that they want you to do.’ I possibly couldn’t have, without her.”
Karen did get through the process, and did bring her children home.
“It’s kind of a success story,” she says. “If I hadn’t taken the state’s advice to reach out to The Family Place, I wouldn’t be with my son or my daughter. It’s really important, the work they do here.”
RobbieAnne found The Family Place through her involvement with the Vermont Reach Up program, which provides cash assistance to families with children in need. At the suggestion of her case manager, RobbieAnne turned to the Families Learning Together program as a place where she could earn the 20 hours of weekly work required by Reach Up.
Initially hesitant, RobbieAnne soon realized she could use her time at The Family Place for her benefit. She applied herself to earning her high school degree and finishing her first semester of college. Although she had attempted to pursue her education before, she says that “life got in the way.” It was the encouragement and support of the people at The Family Place that allowed her to succeed. RobbieAnne says, “They are very motivational and very persistent and good at giving you what you need to keep going.”
In addition to helping her realize her education dreams, The Family Place inspired meaningful lifestyle changes for RobbieAnne. She learned how to keep a budget and how to make her own baby food. Plus, the mandatory parenting classes have helped RobbieAnne establish routine in her home “from discipline to interacting with my children to learning how to set boundaries.”
Everything she’s learned as part of the Families Learning Together program has made RobbieAnne very grateful for The Family Place and proud of what she’s accomplished.
“It’s helped me a lot – I know I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I didn’t come to this program. It’s a 180 from where I started to where I am now.”
A word from The Family Place board member, Nina McCampbell:
“I only had to witness the budding success of one single mother and her young child to know that I was putting my energy and financial support in a program that is making a huge difference – for their future potential and therefore for us all, breaking the heartbreaking cycle of generational poverty that undermines our success as a community and as a nation.
‘The Family Place provides a wealth of education and experience to motivate their participants; while offering excellent child care, socialization, and preschool experiences for the little ones, they are simultaneously teaching the young moms essential life skills: parenting and interacting with their children, finishing high school, learning to drive, nutrition and healthy cooking, writing a resume, interview skills, job internships, money management, crafts like jewelry making and quilting, and the list goes on.
‘It is so inspiring to see the sense of growing hope and of possibility and of self-worth and increasing competence. One by one, transformed lives are being made at The Family Place. It is both humbling and ever so worthwhile to support this work.”
319 US Rte 5 South
Norwich, Vermont 05055
52 Olcott Drive
Wilder, Vermont 05055
*Playgroups meet at the Olcott House