Sandra is a 28-year-old former foster youth, a mother of two, who has struggled with substance use issues for close to 10 years. She has two children: Kayla, age 4, and Joshua, nine months. Sandra considers herself an engaged mom, but she recognizes that there have been times when drug use has negatively impacted her parenting.
When Kayla was two years old, a child neglect report was filed on Sandra. While no case was opened, Sandra viewed it as a wake-up call and completed a 90-day inpatient treatment program to break her drug habit. Friends LA was introduced to Kayla during this time. When our Friend met Kayla, she had problems expressing herself. Sometimes she had temper tantrums while out with her Friend, while other times, she clung to her grandmother and was afraid that she would leave her. Kayla's behavior at school was sometimes aggressive, and she would occasionally push other children.
Sandra recognized that drug use was getting in the way of both parenting and work but didn't know exactly where to turn for help. She and her Friend discussed ways to help her with her parenting role, and her Friend provided her with some new strategies for caring for Kayla and Joshua and building her knowledge of parenting and child development. Sandra is very concerned about Kayla's behavior and frequently checks in with her Friend about how she can work with Kayla on learning to self-regulate and communicate her feelings. Her Friend also invited her to participate in monthly Parent Cafés for caregiver support and provided referrals to Sandra and her daughter to determine what other services they may need.
Traditional services weren't enough for this family, but Friends LA empowered them to succeed.
Siloed, short-term, single-intervention strategies don't work for children and families facing the greatest challenges. Our model is already proven to close the opportunity gap. Our expanding influence in foster care also puts us in a position to demonstrate our impact on foster care prevention and intervention. The cross-systems effect of Friends LA proves that this intensive, lasting, and individualized intervention is the key to changing lives. Sandra's family story illustrates how a Friend can mitigate trauma, break the cycle of poverty, and change a life - one child at a time.