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Keeping Children in the Family

Research shows kids fare better when they remain in the safe, stable and familiar environment that relatives can provide. But how can children be supported when both their mother and grandmother are unable to care for them? Learn more about how a local great-grandmother teamed up with our Healthy Family staff to ensure two of her great-grandchildren thrive here.

Sara was born two months prematurely, addicted to drugs. Her mother hadn’t received any prenatal care. Not only was her mom addicted to drugs at the time of birth, her grandmother was also addicted. With a year-old brother Joshua already in foster care, DHS hoped to find a family member who could take care of the children. They asked Sara’s great-grandmother, Ellen, if she would be willing to take care of both. She agreed, but said that she only thought she could do so for six months, because she had medical issues.

Within two weeks, a UCAN Family Support Specialist (FSS) paid Ellen a visit. Shortly thereafter, the FSS had arranged for Sara’s developmental assessment, connected Ellen with much-needed resources, provided child development education, and impressed Ellen with the important role she was playing in supporting Sara’s healthy development. Six months later, Ellen had changed her mind and asked to keep both children.

While Sara had been found to be developing as expected, Joshua was not so lucky. Also born addicted to drugs and weighing only two pounds at birth, he had witnessed domestic violence and experienced trauma and neglect before being taken into foster care. Our FSS worked with Ellen to get Joshua screened. After he was found to be behind developmentally, the worker connected Ellen with the local Early Intervention (EI) program, and Joshua began receiving their services.

Ellen has worked with our FSS staff for the past three years. We’ve been amazed at the patience, strength and joy she has shown in single-handedly raising Sara and Joshua. She’s met many goals she’s set with our FSS, regularly praises her great-grandchildren while helping them to problem solve, played countless games provided by our FSS that support the children’s development. She’s an avid reader and loves sharing books with them. Though her home isn’t big, she’s created a warm, safe, loving environment.

Joshua no longer needs EI services, and is meeting developmental standards. He’s enrolled in our Head Start program this fall. Sara is almost three years old, as giggly, happy, and well-adjusted as could be. Mom is now sober and visits both the children on weekends. Ellen continues to learn all she can to support her great grand babies, providing them a life filled with love.


Shaun Pritchard

Letter from the Executive Director – Fall 2023

Non-profit newsletters, including our own, often feature stories about their successes. Though my staff do an incredible job day in and day out serving hundreds of clients, staff alone cannot guarantee that clients will succeed. It takes a team, including not only staff, but also community partners and clients themselves, to successfully move past challenging issues. You can learn more here about how we all work together to change lives and improve our community.

Anne Kubisch

Beloved Community Member Retiring

UCAN regularly receives support from many wonderful local foundations and advised funds. But perhaps no other single foundation has had a greater impact on the programming we are able to offer than The Ford Family Foundation (TFFF). With their President and Chief Executive Officer Anne Kubisch retiring, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank both her and the Foundation for their support of our work in Douglas County. You can learn more about Anne and her wonderful support for rural Oregon here.

Working Together on the Road to Recovery

Working Together on the Road to Recovery

Oftentimes we have clients who just need a little help to get back on track. Maybe they need a utility bill paid for a couple of months. Sometimes though, folks need the benefit of many of our services before their lives are stable. The following story is about such a client, how we were able to help her with several UCAN services, and how she herself put in a lot of hard work to get her life back on track. Read about her terrific story of recovery here.