Darcie was a foster care youth dealing with something none of us ever should have to face, the death of her twin sister. Darcie’s sister had taken her own life, leaving her so devastated that the emotional paralysis left her feeling exhausted and alone.
Darcie was referred to Unity Care’s ILP program, but lacked any interest in participating. She was failing her junior year of high school and saw that she may not graduate with her friends and became interested in what ILP could offer. Staff connected her with a tutor and helped her consider creating a resume to challenge her to build her own future. Her ILP counselor encouraged Darcie to take advantage of any of the resources that were offered to her. Ultimately, she found confidence in her counselor and shared her feelings of discontent with her current caregiver as well as the fear of her impending emancipation from the system. Darcie was encouraged to seek out a new
living situation since she would soon turn 18. She successfully located a church member who allowed her to live rent-free under the condition that she worked and attended school. Staff helped her find a job and an internship.
Darcie continues to work with staff on her goals, and has even saved up enough money to buy a used car. We couldn’t be more proud of her for raising her GPA and successfully graduating along with her classmates!
Leticia, was placed in the foster care system as a young teenager and remained until she “aged-out” at 18. She emancipated from the system not knowing she had ongoing mental health issues. Like many foster youth, Leticia experienced homelessness, developed bad habits and associated with the wrong crowd. She met and married a man who introduced more negative influences into her world, most significantly—drugs. Together they had four children, but they did not live a healthy lifestyle. Her husband sold drugs, so Leticia started to use them hoping they would help address her mental issues. She was suffering inside and did not know what was wrong.
Two years ago her husband was deported and Leticia was left to provide for her children. She lacked employment skills. The little income she was able to obtain from labor intensive jobs was not enough to provide for her children. Soon the courts were involved and Leticia’s children were removed from her care. She was directed to complete a court ordered case plan, so she could reunite with her children.
Leticia was referred to Unity Care’s Parent Advocate Services to receive proper guidance to ensure successful completion of her court orders. Unity Care staff, Vicki, was assigned to support her. Leticia was very resistant to working with her Parent Advocate since she did not trust the court system to support her role as a mother. Initially, progress was very slow, but Vicki worked patiently with Leticia. She also noticed Leticia was extremely disorganized and struggled to complete basic daily routines, so she taught Leticia how to slow down and make a checklist. Leticia was diagnosed with ADHD and given proper medication to help stabilize her impulsive behaviors. The medications seem to work very well. Leticia learned to pre-plan, and develop coping skills. Vicki continued to assist Leticia at her court hearings and attend various supportive and recovery meetings. She encouraged Leticia to enroll in an auto repair certification program.
As a result of Vicki’s unwavering support, Leticia has made remarkable positive changes in her life and has fully embraced Parent Advocates Services and her recovery program. She has achieved unsupervised visits with her children and lives in a sober living environment with other women in a residential home. Today, Victoria has successfully completed her court ordered case plan and is ready to reunify with her children.
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When seven-year-old Carina and her mother were living in a temporary women’s shelter in San José for many months, Carina was constantly expelled from school for emotionally violent outbursts. Their social worker referred them to Odyssey, Unity Care’s wraparound program, to help them find stable housing and additional support. Housing was found, her mother secured employment, and yet Carina was still blowing out at school, throwing desks, and leaving her mother feeling helpless around her inability to console and redirect her daughter.
The Child and Family Team created a plan that had a Family Specialist in the classroom with Carina four days a week to try and calm her down and support the learning process. Staff provided emergency crisis intervention 24/7 and initiated a crisis plan for her mother to follow in an attempt to de-escalate Carina independently. Clinicians worked to understand the root of her emotional instability. Carina gained confidence and finally shared that she had been molested by a family member.
She began to attend therapy regularly and receive psychiatric support, obtaining a diagnosis of PTSD and Disruptive Disorder to help her receive more services at school. It was a tumultuous but productive year. Through a collaborative effort with the wraparound team, Carina is doing well at school and recently received the Student of the Month award and her mother is able to maintain steady employment.
Makena, a single mother originally from West Africa, has lived in the U.S. for the past five years. Her father pre-arranged her marriage and upon her arrival to the states, he handed her off to her new husband whom she had never met. Out of respect for cultural tradition, she remained in the pre-arranged marriage and eventually had two children. She eventually divorced her husband because he was abusive.
Makena was at risk of losing custody of her children, so Social Services referred her to Unity Care’s Nia Project program for assistance. There were concerns that Makena lacked personal resources and the knowledge to handle basic every day needs of her children. Makena was not financially stable and she could not work due to a recent back injury.
Unity Care’s culturally proficient African American staff met with Makena to assess her needs. When they arrived, Makena was extremely distraught and was crying because she was afraid of losing her home and her children. The team helped place Makena in an affordable housing unit at our Unity Place I apartment complex in San Jose. They learned that she could speak conversational English, but did not know how to read English. So the team enrolled her into an adult reading class. Staff also taught her how to be self-sufficient by giving her a list of community resources to utilize. At first she resisted calling local agencies to ask for help, but over time she gained self-confidence and began to initiate her own calls.
Makena’s also had challenges parenting her son, who was acting out at home. Initially, Makena yelled at her son whenever he came out of his room. So the team taught her how to effectively communicate and discipline her son. Over time, she learned how to parent her child without yelling. As a result of staff’s assistance, Makena and her child remain together. Her son is doing well in kindergarten and she smiles much more often. Her long-term goal is to get her G.E.D. through the adult education program and she wants to open her very own beauty shop.
Eddie, arrived at Unity Care’s Residential Treatment Home for boys at the age of 16. He was placed at the group home to deal with his extreme behavioral problems. At first, he had difficulty adjusting because he missed his family. He was extremely withdrawn, often cried and ran away for a days at a time.
The Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS) team worked closely with Eddie to get a better understanding of his needs. He often isolated himself from interaction with others, paced back and forth and relied heavily on staff to provide basic care. It took some time for the team to develop a stronger relationship with him, but eventually they learned that Eddie’s behaviors resulted from depression, anxiety and lack of organization skills.
With this discovery, the team created an action plan to address the identified behavioral problems.
Eddie started to show major improvements. He made an effort to interact with his peers, as well as during outings and activities. He also realized that he was emancipating from the system in a year, so he really needed to learn how to take care of himself. He decided to tag along with staff during grocery shopping trips and he learned how to
budget and use coupons. He also started to focus and show interest in school.