At age 13, Molly* was out of control. She used drugs, drank alcohol and sometimes stayed out all night. She was sexually active and missed 16 days of school in the first semester of the school year. Her mother, Marie, worked evening shifts and was stressed to pay her bills. She didn’t want to confront her daughter and fight about her behavior, but to enjoy the little time they had together.
Marie contacted the CEDARS Partners in Permanency Program, funded by United Way that helps families who are on the cusp of intervention by the state’s child welfare system. A family partner worked with Marie on her parenting skills. They talked about age-appropriate behaviors, boundaries and methods to keep Molly happy at home. The family partner also counseled Molly, reminding her of the rules she had to abide by. Ten months into the program, Molly is consistently going to school and earning Bs and Cs. She is no longer sexually active nor is she using drugs or alcohol and is home every night with her mother.
Emily Wesseln, Director of the program, said the program’s goal is to help troubled families to avoid having a child removed from the home or be in the state’s Child Protective Service system. “We want families to stay safely together and be successful,” Wesseln said. “We want to increase graduation rates, to help families feel like they can have a job to provide for their families and be confident, happy and successful in their lives.”
In another United Way funded program, the Child Guidance Center works with children who may have experienced trauma in their lives such as abuse, neglect or loss of a parent through death or divorce. According to Carol Crumpacker, Executive Director of the Child Guidance Center, it is believed that trauma is at the root of acting out behaviors. Their goal is to find the underlying cause. The program at Child Guidance helps children understand and overcome the trauma they have experienced through treatment such as individual, family and group therapy or play and art therapy.
Robin McDannel, Senior Director of Community Impact at United Way, says that both of these programs are invested in getting professional intervention to families with serious problems quickly. “These families need help to get them on the right path, to break down barriers and to help them avoid more serious consequences. These agencies do an amazing job of saving families.”
Two other programs are funded by United Way to provide professional intervention services:
- Family Service Association of Lincoln—Behavioral Health
- Lincoln Medical Education Partnership—School Community Intervention Program
*Names in this story are fictional; their stories are real.
Story development and copywriting by CJJ Communications.