Parenting

All parents face confusion and stress raising children. When parents or children face significant challenges like poverty, mental health issues, addiction, family violence, foster care placement, or histories of trauma, it can be even harder to know how to build a safe and loving family life. Stories here explore how parents have overcome challenges to build strong families.

Parenting from Prison – ‘How Long Will You Be Here?’

I first met my step-daughter, Tyler, when she was 8 years old. One of the first questions she asked of me was, “How long will you be here (in prison)?” My wife, sensing that I would answer truthfully, interjected quickly, saying, “He’ll be home in a couple of years.” Actually, I had 10 more years to go before I would be eligible for release.

I didn’t agree with my wife’s response, but I felt that if … Read More

Safe Inside – I’m helping my son feel secure despite difficult conditions

Last year I reunified with my son, Aaron, who spent his first two years in foster care. Aaron is now 4 years old with curly brown hair, brown eyes and a smile that makes everyone want to smile too.

Aaron’s foster family had lots of money for clothes, toys, everything. When we reunified, I thought Aaron would be unhappy not having a large TV with cable and tons of fancy toys. He was just happy to … Read More

‘I Needed Help That People in My Life Couldn’t Give Me’ – Through preventive services I’ve found ways to feel safe, calm and connected

My father was gone and my mother had died by the time I was 7. I was raised by relatives. My main caregiver was what you’d consider “old fashioned”—strict and not very affectionate. I felt insecure and always looked over.

When I was 13, I began to rebel. At 17, my relatives placed me in foster care.

Going through foster care gave me strength and resilience but also a place of loneliness and feeling unloved.

After I aged … Read More

Getting Connected – A peer support group keeps at-risk newborns and mothers together

Reporting by Dominique Arrington and Jeanette Vega

Dealing with child welfare can be a scary and shameful experience. Mothers who become pregnant when they already have children in foster care feel particularly vulnerable, because their babies are at high risk of being removed right from the hospital.

In 2013, The Bronx Defenders, a New York City legal organization, created Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies to support these moms.

The program offers weekly support groups, advocacy and referrals. It even … Read More

Being There for Baby—and Yourself: A new report focuses on supporting teen parents in foster care as parents and people.

Recently I had a chance to read the report “Expectant & Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Addressing their developmental needs to promote healthy parent and child outcomes” by Charlyn Harper Browne at the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

I became a mother while I was in foster care, and I found the report inspiring, relatable and informative. The report says that parents in the system and their children do best if the parents … Read More