“I left my addiction behind. I didn’t want to lose my kids.”
Tess (not her real name) started on drugs when she was 16, becoming an addict as she progressed from marijuana to cocaine. After giving birth to a substance-exposed infant, it was recommended that she begin inpatient treatment. Tess agreed, beginning her two-year journey with Intact Family Services.
The Intact Family Services program involves a partnership between LCFS and Chicago’s Rincon Family Services to provide support to children and families in which the mother is undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse.
Mothers are usually referred to the program after giving birth to a substance-exposed infant or having neglected or abused her children due to her substance abuse. Intact Family Services allows children to safely stay with their parents while the family is obtaining treatment. Caseworkers connect mothers and their families with needed community resources and help them make a successful transition from residential treatment to a group home and then to a more independent living environment.
Tess, 27, currently resides in a group home with her two children (ages 2 and 3). She credits those who collaborated with her on her treatment, including her LCFS caseworker Damikka Griffin, as a big reason why that treatment was successful. Tess’s words at the top of this page explain her primary motivation, and she says she was, “Glad I put a stop to my addiction.” That addiction cost Tess a lot of friends and she has had to work hard to repair her relationship with her family.
Her journey has not been easy. Today, Tess is undergoing therapy and looking for a job, but is happy that she and her kids are still together. She feels her life has changed for the better. Her advice to other mothers finding themselves in the same place where she once was: “Not to give up hope.” The power of collaboration between agencies and the good that can result in the lives of those they work with is very evident in Tess’s story and the stories of the many others whose well-being LCFS strives to improve every day.