(Kudos to Namuyaba Temanju, Family Resource Specialist)
Today was a great day for our team! Namuyaba has been working with a single mom who has custody of her 7-month-old child. Mom has been trying desperately (for two years) to get her 2-year-old returned to her. Namuyaba has been working with this mother for several weeks and has become her greatest advocate. I accompanied Namuyaba to the latest Family Team Meeting for this mother, which went amazingly well. The majority of the participants raved at how well the mother had been doing. In turn, the mother reported that Namuyaba has been her greatest support this past couple of weeks. Before the meeting ended, everyone agreed that the 2-year-old will return home to her mother.
After the meeting, I spoke with the Guardian Ad Litem. She stated that due to Namuyaba’s work with the family, she was also more comfortable with the 2-year-old returning home. Also, she reported that things were going so well that transitioning the mother’s 16-year-old back into her care is a good possibility. This was something that the mother was told would never happen. It goes to show what is possible when we pour our passion into these families and make them feel like we are indeed in their corner. I see this as the first of many victories for our Colorado team!
Both the Caseworker and Supervisor were very excited to hear about the work we do here at Justice Works. The Supervisor stated that she will be recommending our services to others.
JWCO Program Director, Colorado
**Thank you, Chris, for sharing this beautiful story! Kudos to NamuyabaTemanju! Namuyaba’s hard work and dedication resulted in the family’s reunification.
(Letter received from a foster parent praising Family Resource Specialist, Staci Barnes of Schuylkill County)
Staci encouraged me to reach out to you to tell you our thoughts on Justice Works. So, I just want to start off by saying I am really impressed. The support that was offered to the birth parents AND the foster parents was amazing. I felt I had a voice for once. Staci listened to my thoughts and was very encouraging to me.
We had received a call from a child-serving organization regarding a preemie baby girl who was on track to go home within 3 months. It was hard trying not to get attached as we (foster parents) didn’t want our hearts to break when she left. Staci contacted us for visits and was willing to work with our schedule and at our convenience which I can say NEVER happens!! For that we were super appreciative.
We formed a relationship with the birth parents of whom spoke very highly of Staci and the support of JusticeWorks. The birth mother praised Staci multiple times.
One night in May after a visit, the birth mother asked me to call her for she had something important to discuss with me. That night forever changed our lives as the birth mother asked if we would adopt the baby. If someone had asked me if I thought this would’ve happened I would have sarcastically said in my dreams! However the birth mother explained that she and her husband talked with Staci multiple times over the course of the last few months about how they weren’t prepared for a baby and that due to mental health and past trauma that raising a child in those conditions wasn’t exactly the wisest thing. Both parents love their daughter so incredibly much, and their loss is not lost on me. With Staci’s encouragement we are hopefully planning to keep the birth parents in the child’s life forever by allowing visits and contact as long as it’s a healthy relationship.
Staci was always so nice and encouraging to me. I’ve never had caseworkers or visit personnel tell us that were doing a good job….it’s unheard of. Staci’s encouragement was like a breath of fresh air. It literally changed the way we parented because sometimes we felt that we were only seen as glorified babysitters. We really put our whole heart and soul and every breath into these children and making them better people and trying to bring out their potential. It’s nice to see a place that is not focused on a certain type of people but of bringing everyone together to try to work together. At least that’s the way I felt about it and sensed. Staci didn’t try to divide the relationship between the birth parents and us. She tried to strengthen it, and I firmly believe that if it had not been for Staci we would not be looking at an adoption for the baby within a short couple of months!!!! I know not every story is a success one like this but I just want to personally thank JusticeWorks for being a company that plays a part in helping others no matter the situation.
The Seymour’s* (Pseudonym)
Thank you for sharing your story! We are pleased to hear about the successful relationship between you and the birth family. All the best to you and the newest addition to your family!
Staci Barnes, Schuylkill County FRS, Receives Commendation from Schuylkill County Children & Youth Services!
(Email from County Caseworker):
Just want to thank everyone involved in the Dixon* case. Not every day do we receive praise from a parent for our support in their success! During my unannounced visit yesterday, Ms. Dixon* and I reflected on how far she has come since our initial visits. We did not elaborate too much on anything negative. However, Ms. Dixon* mentioned how much she truly appreciates us. She specifically elaborated about Staci Barnes and her support. Staci was definitely a huge asset to our team. I will personally attest to Staci’s respect and expertise with drug and alcohol clients. Staci motivated parents to complete a Relapse Prevention Plan; something which Ms. Dixon* and her son, David,* took much pride in. Staci diligently addressed and worked through many hurdles with this family. Ms. Dixon* also mentioned how much easier it has become to open up to her new supportive worker, Jamie.
Here is an update on progress: David* was just successfully discharged from Drug & Alcohol and Anger Management treatment. Since December, Ms. Dixon* has been transitioned to a lower level of care. She is also close to being discharged. Ms. Dixon* is ready to start seeking employment opportunities. Also, she stated she would like to know more about becoming a Peer Support Specialist. On multiple occasions, Ms. Dixon* shared with us how she enjoys telling her story and encouraging others. She realized how important it is to be honest and open with us. She reminds other parents she comes in contact with how important it is to connect with CYS caseworkers. Ms. Dixon* is thankful for us being involved with her family at such a time. She knows that we helped them overcome extremely tough challenges and connect in ways they seriously needed. Her relationship with David* and her other sons keeps getting better.
Aimee Thompson, Case Worker
Schuylkill Co. Children & Youth Services
Thank you, Ms. Thompson, in sharing your thoughts on Staci’s excellent teamwork abilities. We agree – she is an asset to JusticeWorks! We look forward to hearing more about the exciting future in front of Ms. Dixon and her entire family.
ERICKA BRUNNER, ADAMS COUNTY FRS, RECEIVES WELL-DESERVED PRAISE FROM A VERY BRAVE AND DETERMINED MOTHER
I’m sure I am somewhere in your files, but my name is Christine. I have two daughters, one age 12, and the other, age 9. In February 2017, my husband of 10 years poured gasoline on me and tried to light me on fire in front of my children. He was arrested and went to jail accordingly. Unfortunately, even though we were married, I lost everything, having no access to bank accounts, vehicles, or even my own driver’s license. Of course, he was allowed no contact with the girls and me, but his parents tried to sue me for full custody of the girls, citing the trauma I had gone through, as well as the fact that I was homeless, jobless, etc. They even went so far as to take my vehicle, because it was in my husband’s name, knowing a divorce settlement would take years due to his incarceration and unwillingness to sign. Inside the vehicle was the entire year of my children’s homeschool work, which they admitted to destroying. We, in simple terms, we’re screwed.
Then came Justice Works, represented by Ericka Brunner. She began by simply giving me a ride to the DMV to get a new copy of my license. We then moved on to health insurance, food assistance, and educational materials to allow the girls to bypass their homeschool review and test out for the year. By the end of her time with my family, I managed to retain full custody, (they were forced to drop the suit entirely) find therapy services for my children, who now have PTSD, and encourage me to shoot for the stars and apply for my dream job.
I now work from home, full time, as a legal marketing strategist. The girls can remain homeschooled, and I make enough to support us. This year I was even able to swing a lovely Christmas.
The girls and I are eternally grateful for the help we received. Being an adult, I realize how close I came to losing my precious children, through no fault of my own. I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know Justice Works… WORKS.
A year later I am able to support my family with no form of public assistance, I have a great job, and I learned it is ok to do things MY way and be successful. Without Ericka to encourage me, I would have given up. I was at the end of my patience, and frankly, my will to try.
Please keep doing what you do. You truly are SAVING LIVES and families. I wanted to go beyond the paperwork and give you my personal thanks and support you as much as you supported us. If you EVER need any form of testimony, please contact me. I will never forget you, or Ericka, and my girls and I are living proof that you guys are truly needed and truly successful.
Christine, you are not only in our files but also in our hearts. Thank you, for providing wonderful feedback on FRS, Ericka Brunner. Thank you, Ericka, for supporting and partnering with Christine in the spirit of the JusticeWorks’ Mission. It is through the power of positive relationships that true healing begins!
Schuylkill County staff member, Vincent “Vince” Troutman, is being recognized by JWYC for his bravery and heroism after rescuing a woman who had been held hostage and physically assaulted for several weeks by an unknown male assailant.
While out in the field, Vince noticed a man dragging a female across the street by her hair and immediately pulled his car over and dialed 911. Although dispatchers encouraged Vince to remain engaged at a distance, the woman was clearly in danger and Vince was unable to watch this physical assault unfold. As an attempt to de-escalate the situation until police arrived, Vince got out of his vehicle and began to call out to the man. As Vince approached, the man panicked and fled the scene. Bruised and shaken up, the woman informed the police that she had been tied up, assaulted, and held hostage for several weeks in the man’s home prior to her escape. The man was later apprehended by police several blocks from the crime scene.
Thank you, Vince, for your bravery and for doing ‘Whatever It Takes’ in all situations by placing your own safety on the line to rescue someone else in dire need of help! Your contributions to the JWYC mission and the community are appreciated.
Left to right: JWYC Supervisor, Leah Bogdanski, and FRS Lori Hubert
JWYC received a call from a distraught mother who reported that her house was on fire. Indiana County Supervisor, Leah Bogdanski, and Family Resource Specialist, Lori Hubert, immediately responded to the home to assist.
While on scene, Leah and Lori worked with three Indiana County CYS workers to help guide the family to safety and provide food. In addition to ensuring the wellbeing of the parents and their five children during the fire, the duo went above and beyond by working to get an aftercare plan in place for the family after the fire. For instance, one of the children, an infant, was on special prescription formula. Leah and Lori called the infant’s pediatrician and made arrangements for the formula to be available for the baby at the hospital. They also contacted the Red Cross for disaster relief assistance. In order to process the referral, the Red Cross needed specific documentation which was lost in the fire. Leah thought of the idea of accessing the information through the JWYC data-base system, ClientTrax. Social security paperwork, which had the family’s address and other relevant information needed, was uploaded by JWYC staff and provided to the Red Cross so the family was able to receive additional aid.
As temporary living situations were assessed for each family member, CYS contemplated sending one of the children to reside with a relative who showed up at the scene. Leah and Lori shared relevant background information about this family member to CYS so that an informed decision of the child’s placement was made not to send the child with the relative. Had Leah and Lori not been actively involved in the case, and at the scene, CYS may have placed this child with a family member that would have otherwise been considered a safety concern.
Leah and Lori did an awesome job working together and with CYS in order to provide this family with emotional and tangible support prior to, during, and after the fire.
Thank you, Leah and Lori, for your collaboration with Indiana County CYS and doing ‘Whatever it Takes’ to ease this family’s burden during a tragedy! Great job!