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.