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CFA Family Resource Center Provides a Lifeline to Mother and Infant Desperate for Assistance
*Photos reflect the spirit of CFA and are not of any individuals associated with these stories
Last year I received a call from Colorado’s Office of Human Services (OHS) to hear a kind, sweet-sounding social worker explaining that my niece, Angelina, desperately needed a place to stay. Little Angelina was living in an extreme situation with her mother, my sister Marie, in a small town in Colorado.
While it broke my heart, the call was not unexpected. Marie had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at 19. Her symptoms set in shortly after she graduated from high school. Then her life changed drastically: she became homeless and resorted to prostituting herself for money to eat. She was pregnant by age 20.
Her daughter Angelina was 14 months old when I received the call from Colorado’s OHS. I packed the car and immediately drove my family to Colorado. The scene there was heartbreaking. Marie was staying with a friend, and without adequate medical care her schizophrenia had worsened with seizures and motor difficulties. We drove back to Connecticut with Marie and Angelina as quickly as possible.
Shortly after we arrived home, I heard about the Family Resource Centers (FRC) that Child & Family Agency runs. I was happy to hear about free playgroups Monday through Thursday in New London, as I needed help with Angelina and support for myself, as well. I was scared, overwhelmed, and at my “wit’s end” trying to care for Marie and Angelina.
While Marie wanted desperately to parent Angelina, she lacked the skills. With Angelina’s development lagging and medical medical problems deepening, the situation was challenging.
A friendly FRC staff member welcomed us into a playgroup on a cold February morning. He was warm, kind, and non-judgmental. He asked how we were and where we’d come from. He described what could be done for us. We were at a crossroads, and that kind man started us on the path to healing.
He helped me find medical services for Marie, which was difficult since there’d been no medical records when I picked her up in Colorado. Marie’s seizures were worsening, and she needed to see a neurologist and was in need of prescriptions.
Marie had brought with her a bag of clothes that were so covered in filth they couldn’t be salvaged. So the FRC staff member obtained new clothes, diapers, and food for us. He screened Angelina and made a referral to Birth-3, an early intervention program that supports children with delays in development. He provided information and support around parenting a developmentally delayed child, and he helped me find ways to safely include Marie in caring for Angelina.
We have such a long way to go. Angelina had a traumatic start riddled with health issues. Marie needs constant attention and likely will struggle for the rest of her life. But I can’t tell you enough how much it meant to us to find just one kind person there for us.
CFA and the FRC staff gave us concrete assistance, for sure, but what mattered most to us is that CFA was there when the odds were stacked against us. I’ll be forever grateful.
*At Child and Family Agency we respect everyone who comes to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names, identifying details, and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. Thank you for understanding.