“I felt hopeless. My whole world was crashing down on me,” Amanda remembers the day DHS took her three children and placed them into foster care. “We were living in a trashed-out house, we were behind on rent, and I didn’t have a job or any money.” Amanda knew she needed to get away from her situation and get help, but she didn’t know how.
In Colorado, many children are removed from parents who are struggling just like Amanda. Often these families find themselves in hard situations and have no support or resources, making an already difficult situations even more difficult. However, with help, many families can achieve stability. FamiliesCare is a new family preservation program that focuses on supporting struggling families before children are removed. Families are identified by county caseworkers and encouraged to contact Project 1.27, who connects the family with a Families Care Group from a local church. The group commits to work with the family for a one-year period, essentially becoming the needed support network to help the family keep their children safely at home. How the group serves the family will look different depending on the family’s needs and goals but could include bringing meals, and groceries, offering transportation to appointments or court, organizing fun activities for kids, and even helping identify employment opportunities. Fred Elliot-Hart, FamiliesCare Director, shares, “With this program, Project 1.27 is moving into family preservation, helping a struggling family before the kids are removed. We expect this program to decrease out-of-home placements for children.”
“I felt so alone during that season of my life,” Amanda recalls after her kids went into foster care. At one point, she was pregnant and sleeping in a park. “I kind of just gave up, I didn’t think I could ever get my kids back.”
There were a few bright spots in her journey. Melissa, a county worker, helped Amanda find temporary housing and brought her some clothes for her new baby. She became friends with Jenny, her children’s foster mom, who encouraged and supported her. “Jenny was the blessing that my kids needed, and I needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m so thankful that my kids ended up in her home. It was the best place for them to go at that time.”
Jenny paid for a hotel for Amanda over Christmas so she didn’t have to sleep outside in the snow. She drove her to appointments and court and helped her find community resources for food and housing. When Amanda regained custody of her children, Jenny showed up with a crew of helpers to move her into a new 2-bedroom apartment, helping to set up the kids’ bedrooms, organizing her apartment, and stocking her pantry and fridge full of groceries.
Amanda believes a program like FamiliesCare could have made all the difference in her and her children’s journey. “What I needed at that point in my life was someone, anyone, to help us. Someone to listen to me in a non-judgmental way and help me find resources to get out of a bad situation.” Amanda is thankful that she finally found the support she needed in Jenny. Looking back, Amanda recalls, “Having support gave me hope that I could get my kids back.”
FamiliesCare is launching in three Colorado counties, Arapahoe, Mesa, and Weld. Project 1.27 is looking for churches to partner and train to support the families who enter the program, as well as hiring for several positions within the program.
If you’re interested in learning more, becoming a prayer partner, or joining the Project 1.27 team, visit project127.org/familiescare or contact Fred at email@example.com
Amanda is now a full-time parent to her five children.