Collaboration between staff members offers hope to mother and daughter

On April 9, 2009, 16-year-old Christina* was removed from her mother’s home due to medical neglect. It was alleged that Christina was not receiving the proper health care treatment nor was she taking her medication on a consistent basis (she was diagnosed with a chronic infectious disease that is life threatening}.

Initially, Christina was placed with her maternal grandmother. However, shortly after, Christina was removed and placed in a foster group home as the maternal grandmother was not able to meet Christina’s medical needs.

Upon meeting Christina’s mother, Family Case Manager Jessica Rodriguez felt confident that Christina would be home within a few months. The mother appeared highly motivated to complete her case plan tasks and to be reunified with her daughter. But, the mother’s motivation quickly decreased, and she began to become less involved with the case over time.

Christina was extremely upset coming into care and did not understand why she could not be with her mother and brother (who was never removed from the home). Jessica worked with Program Specialist Valerie Threadgill to identify relatives via Family Finding that would be willing to keep Christina or even pick her up during the weekends for temporary relief from the group home environment.

The case soon came to a stand still as all of the relatives seemed to be unstable and the mother was making minimal efforts to achieve the permanency goal. Christina began to lose hope and her frustration was revealed in her school performance and day-to-day attitudes about life.

Jessica turned to Valerie who provided her with words of wisdom and encouraged the young family case manager to re-engage the mother, letting her know how much she was needed in her child’s life. Taking Valerie’s advice, Jessica began to engage the mother once again by explaining the situation from Christina’s perspective.

The mother finally admitted to Jessica that she was upset the whole time with the Department of Children and Families for taking her child away after she had requested help on several occasions. The mother said she knew that Christina needed medical attention, but recognized she needed assistance in taking care of Christina’s medical needs. She did not understand why removal was the “best option” for her family.

The mother admitted to being rebellious, and also realized that she was only hurting Christina in the process. After the conversation, the mother worked, in conjunction with Jessica, diligently to achieve her permanency goal, completing her tasks and establishing a stable residence in which she could bring her child to live. In the meantime, Christina continued to take her medication, participated in her counseling sessions and worked hard to bring up her grades.

Christina was happily reunified on Feb. 22, 2010, and is spending her 17th birthday with her mother and brother. Great work to Jessica Rodriguez and Valerie Threadgill for collaborating to fulfill the OHU promise of hope!

*Name was changed to protect confidentiality.

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