Baby Steps Toward a Brighter Future:
Kimberly, a single teen mom in Garden Grove was the victim of a sexual assault last year. Kimberly got pregnant from the incident, and the result was a beautiful baby girl named Mariana. Kimberly has struggled to hold things together, promising to be the mother that her daughter would need. Kimberly never had time to work through her trauma but has focused her attention on meeting her daughter’s needs.
Kimberly is an active parent in our Infant program, but she struggles to make ends meet. She receives no financial assistance to help support her baby, and cannot always meet her basic needs. Kimberly was adopted by our Families Helping Families program, which connected her with critically needed items and some stability for her home. She is working hard to overcome her past and give baby Mariana the best start in life.
Kings Care: The Power of a Caring Community
Jennifer came to the Child Abuse Prevention Center through our Well program after her husband of 12 years abandoned the family. Jennifer was left with two kids to care for, and had no money and no job. Her husband cut off all their utilities and Jennifer did not even have a phone to reach out for help.
Our caseworker Amanda provided intensive case management and family interventions to bring the family some much-needed stability. Kyle Clifford of the Los Angeles Kings stepped in to adopt this family and meet their needs for the holidays. The entire family was also able to attend a Kings game along with 27 other families from the Center, go ice skating at L.A. Live, and enjoy a very special day together. At the end of the day, the entire family was moved to tears by the experience they shared. Jennifer felt like she had the support of the community and that her family was cared for. “We will never forget [Kyle’s] name,” Jennifer said. The support of an entire community was exactly what Jennifer and her family needed to regain hope and start a new life together.
It’s The Little Things: The Power of Positive Routines
Josh was a newly single dad who was having a hard time adjusting to single parenthood. He was going through a lot of trauma because of his divorce, and his three children were suffering the consequences.
Josh was having an especially hard time getting used to the morning routine. He struggled to even get out the door, and his kids were late to school every single day. Finally, the district sent a letter to the house and wanted to take disciplinary action.
Our team came in and helped Josh create more structured and stable routines. Our caseworker Angie helped connect the entire family to therapy to cope with the changes in their family. Angie went to the house at 6 am and helped get the kids settled into a morning routine—she even helped walk the kids to school to make sure they made it on time. With Angie’s help, the kids made it to school on time every day for a week straight. They are still going strong and now have healthy, positive morning routines. Josh is more adjusted to the morning routines and is developing as a single father. They are so excited to be back on track and look forward to growing closer as a family.
Steps Toward A Brighter Future
Angie enrolled in the Infant program because she was concerned about the development of her eleven month old son Rudy. Rather than crawling on his hands and legs, Rudy would drag himself on the ground with his hands. Angie was concerned that Rudy would not be able to walk by the time he turned one.
Our caseworker Sandy came to Angie’s home and taught her about child development. In addition to parent education, Sandy was able to give Angie tips for encouraging Rudy to walk and explore. With the help of the Infant program curriculum, Angie became more knowledgeable about the different developmental stages and began engaging in activities that would help Rudy walk. After four weeks of working with Sandy and the Infant program, Rudy began to pull himself up on his own and crawl. Now, Rudy will be turning one soon and is enjoying beginning to walk with the help of his mother.
Stopping Abuse In Its Tracks
Kim was the caring mother of two boys—Ricky, age two and Mikey, age four. Mikey showed signed of autism and developmental delays, and was referred to the Toddler program by his medical provider. Our Toddler casework specialist Amanda opened the case and began providing parent education and support services. She provided critical information on positive parenting, child development and child abuse prevention.
Two months into the program, Kim broke down in tears, sharing that she was afraid Mikey was being sexually abused by his biological father when he visited him on the weekends. Amanda helped Kim file a child abuse report and supported her throughout the investigation. A few weeks later, Amanda received a call from Kim, who was on her way to the hospital with Mikey to be treated for sexual abuse.
Amanda listened with empathy and immediately filed another child abuse report with the Child Abuse Registry. She explained the importance of a forensic exam and helped Kim make an appointment with Mikey’s doctor to be medically examined and helped Kim advocate for Mikey. She also connected Kim to therapy for Mikey and legal resources to press charges and obtain full custody of her son. By educating Kim and being a vital support to the family in crisis, Amanda was able to ensure that little Mikey would never have to endure abuse from his father again.
Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and Shame
Nancy experienced traumatic sexual abuse by her step father when she was young. Tragically, her mother would not believe her when she reported the abuse. Nancy carried her feelings of anger, shame, and betrayal with her into her adult life.
As a mother, Nancy began living in a shelter while her 10 year old son, Jon, who attempted suicide on ten different occasions. Nancy fell into a deep depression and struggled to find healthy ways to be a mom.
Nancy enrolled in our In Home Mental Health Program and worked with her case worker, Megan, on learning coping skills. After working through the six-week program Nancy was calmer, a better communicator and was actively looking for work. She had a new perspective and was able to cope with the trauma of her past and be a better mother.
Bringing Hope to Suffering Families
Summer, a single mom from Coto de Caza, grew concerned when her 10-year-old son Ryan began to consistently wet the bed at night. She first noticed the problem when Ryan, whose father had full custody, stayed with her for the summer. Summer connected to a Mental Health Educator in our Well program, who linked Ryan to free psychiatric counseling at the Prevention Center with a pro bono psychiatrist, Dr. Stevens.
After two sessions with Dr. Stevens, Ryan confessed that he suffered through years of mental, verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his father. In addition to kicking and slapping him, Ryan’s father dressed him in clothes that were two sizes too small. As a result of enduring years of abuse, Ryan became defiant and angry with those around him, often getting into fights at school.
After Ryan’s visits with Dr. Stevens, Summer took action to gain full custody of her son. She also received help from one of the Center’s parenting programs to improve her parenting skills. While Ryan still has a long road ahead of him to recover from the trauma of abuse, he is now keeping dry throughout the night and able to talk more openly with those around him. With the help of a caring mom and our Well program, Ryan has a much brighter future.
Empowering Families in Need
As a 17-year-old single mom, Roxana had a difficult time raising her two-year old daughter Stella. Stella showed signs of a speech delay and had difficulty expressing herself to her mother. Roxana also had concerns about Stella’s safety, since her home had major safety hazards that the landlord would not fix. She felt hopeless in her ability to improve Stella’s quality of life.
Our program caseworker Bethany worked with Roxana to file a complaint with the city to fix the safety hazards in her home. Bethany also connected the family to health screenings and therapy services for Stella’s speech delay, where Stella was identified as suffering from slight hearing loss. In addition to linking Stella to therapy for her hearing loss, Bethany also worked with Roxana to help her enroll in community college and further her education. Roxana is now ready to enroll at Cypress College, and has the skills to properly care for Stella. Our program has empowered her with the skills she needs to improve herself as a parent and improve her daughter’s quality of life. Stella is now in a safe home with a loving mother who is working hard to build a brighter future for the entire family.
The Power of Positive Discipline
Rachel, mother of two, suffered from the trauma of being in a violent relationship. Depressed, frustrated, and out of work, she would take out her stress on her children, often yelling at them rather than approaching them with healthy discipline. As a result, her children Hannah and Thomas, ages eight and four, began to act out by fighting and getting into trouble at school.
Our caseworker Connie intervened and provided the family with support. She immediately connected the family to health insurance, speech therapy, and individual counseling. She also provided Rachel with parent education to promote positive discipline and healthy communication with her kids. Within a few short months of working with Connie, the family has completely transformed. Rachel has learned to cope with the trauma of past abuse and has increased her parenting skills. With Hannah and Thomas now spending more quality time with Rachel and receiving positive discipline, their academic performance and behavior at school have improved tremendously. Rachel is also currently enrolled in nursing school in hopes of building a better future for her children.
A Father’s Journey
Five-year-old twins Shayla and Charlotte lived in a car with their mother in Seal Beach. With their mother struggling with substance abuse and unable to care for them, the two girls experienced tremendous heartache and instability. Their living situation took a toll on their mental health and well-being.
When their father Allen took full custody of the two girls, he was overwhelmed. He desperately wanted to show his daughters a better life, but simply didn’t know where to start. He wanted to do everything possible to ensure the health and happiness of his young daughters. Allen enrolled in our Well program, where our staff helped him find counseling for Shayla and Charlotte. Our program also provided donated items to meet the family’s basic needs. Shayla and Charlotte were also given donated stuffed animals to provide them with comfort and support during this difficult time in their life.
Shayla and Charlotte are now happy, healthy children who love to laugh and play. They are doing well in school and continue to receive counseling. With the support of our Well program, Shayla and Charlotte now live in a safe, stable home with a loving father.
Freedom to Break the Cycle
Mona, a mother of two, enrolled in our Infant program shortly after giving birth to her newborn baby Isaac. Isaac suffered from a heart murmur and was born with only one lung. Our program caseworker Angela began routine home visits to educate Mona on how to care for her baby in his delicate condition.
Unfortunately, throughout the course of her home visits with Mona, Angela discovered that Mona’s relationship with Jack was far from healthy. Jack refused to let Mona drive or give her money while she was out of work. Over time, Jack grew more controlling. Isolated and unhappy, Mona felt trapped. She had nowhere to turn to for help or assistance. Angela worked with Mona to construct a safety plan, helping her find resources for support as she transitioned into single parenthood and found a safe place to call home. Angela also connected Mona with health care for her Isaac through the Regional Center and linked her to a public health nurse to help care for Isaac. While Mona still has a long journey ahead of her, her children no longer live in fear, exposed to an abusive home environment. Mona now lives with her sister in a safe and secure home, and has begun taking steps to build a brighter future for her two young children.
Breaking the Cycle
Julia came to the Prevention Center in a state of emotional distress. A victim of sexual abuse since age 11, she had been sexually abused by her uncle and his nephew during summer vacation trips to their home. Her mother, Marguerite, had no idea. After 4 years of repeated abuse, Julia begged her mother not to send her and her sister away again, but she was too afraid to say why. To save her and her sister from further abuse, Julia attempted to commit suicide. It was only then that she had the courage to tell Marguerite about the horrific, traumatizing experiences she had endured. Her mother was completely stunned. She reported the incident right away, and Social Services then referred the family to our program.
When our caseworker Helen started with this family, Marguerite was completely devastated. She couldn’t understand why this had happened. Her anger and devastation prevented Marguerite from completely supporting her daughter during this troubling time. Helen came in and educated Marguerite on the issues surrounding sexual abuse and explained to her that she needed to be patient and supportive with Julia. Our caseworker empowered Marguerite and praised her continuously for taking a stand with her daughter and making the child abuse report.
However, Marguerite was not the only one that needed help. Julia needed services to repair the damage that the years of sexual abuse had caused. Helen talked to Julia, reassuring her that the instances were not her fault, she was an innocent child and people took advantage of her youth. Helen knew how important it was to help Julia heal, so that when she became a mom, she would be there for her children emotionally and not continue a devastating cycle of abuse.
After several home visits Julia agreed to seek therapy. Together, through the therapy visits, mother and daughter experienced positive changes. They are both on their way to emotional recovery, but it is a long road ahead to erase the pain of a history of sexual abuse.
Dealing with the Unexpected
When Maggie, a mother of three, was pregnant with her fourth child, she didn’t expect anything to be different, new or challenging. Last November, along with her husband and children, Maggie was excited to welcome her newborn daughter Kayla. A few weeks after her baby was born, Maggie decided she wanted to reconnect with the Prevention Center’s Infant Program. Years ago, she received valuable services from the program for her now four year old son. Maggie felt that she could never know everything about being a great parent and was looking forward to participating in the program once again.
After two months in the program, her caseworker noticed there was something wrong with Kayla’s development. Her caseworker reached out to the Regional Center and requested that a physical assessment of Kayla take place. The evaluation of her physical assessment diagnosed Kayla with cerebral palsy.
Maggie was devastated. None of her other children had any special needs or disabilities. She felt helpless and depressed because she didn’t know how to handle her daughter’s condition. Maggie’s caseworker saw her struggling emotionally and referred her to the OC Wellness Center to receive treatment for postpartum depression. She received necessary counseling services that helped her cope with Kayla’s diagnosis. The Infant Program also provided Maggie with a nurse to help her care for her child’s condition and evaluate any new developments.
Today, Maggie is still attending the OC Wellness Program for counseling and her baby is receiving physical therapy at the Regional Center. Maggie is looking forward to raising as healthy, happy child with the support of her family and the education she received through our Infant Program
Learning to Believe in Yourself
As a young mother at 16, Breanne faced tremendous adversity when she first came to the Prevention Center. Child Protective Services removed her daughter, Abigail, when it was determined she could no longer raise her daughter in a healthy environment. This was devastating to Breanne because she loved her daughter deeply. At the time, Breanne was suffering from Postpartum Depression and lacked any family support. On top of all this, Breanne was struggling to complete High School.
Our Monitored Visitation Team provided a safe and secure area where Breanne could develop nurturing parenting skills and bond with her daughter. Our team connected her with much needed resources, education, and support. Breanne gained confidence through these parenting classes. She learned how to form a secure and loving attachment with Abigail. After two years in our program, Breanne graduated High School and regained custody of her daughter. Mother and daughter are living happily together and Breanne looks forward to their future together!
Sabrina, a mother to a 10 year-old daughter, came to us through our Neighbor to Neighbor program. Unfortunately, Sabrina kept an extremely unclean home, even barring our caseworker from viewing a particularly messy room and a child abuse report was filed. Having been completely dependent on her parents for basic necessities, she lacked personal disciplinary skills. As a result, her daughter did not have any disciplinary guidance and would often disobey her mother. Through our 10-week program, Sabrina set goals to clean her house and gain proper parenting skills. Our caseworker also encouraged her to secure a job to support her and her daughter.
Additionally, Sabrina was struggling with divorce proceedings. To help manage the stress of this drastic change, Sabrina and her daughter were enrolled in the Helping Kids Cope program. This program assists divorcing parents who have children while going through a divorce, and teaches them techniques that help relieve stress during these turbulent times.
Our programs at the Prevention Center made a tremendous impact on Sabrina and her daughter’s life. Sabrina became a more independent, disciplined, and empowered parent. She reached her goal of cleaning her home and secured a job in Irvine. Sabrina’s daughter also responded positively to the changes in her life. The discipline that Sabrina gained was passed down to her daughter, and their relationship improved.