Let’s look at this hypothetical situation.
“Mary” was abused when she was young. She had a rough childhood and has somehow managed to stay alive and survive. She has had a few kids, but she only has one in her custody. That child is under 5 years old.
She has had on and off jobs, finished high school but never thought she was smart enough for college and somewhere down the line ended up losing her apartment (after her boyfriend moved out she could no longer afford it).
She drinks, but not heavily.
She smokes weed to go numb from the pain, but not regularly.
She has trusted and been hurt. She has been hurt very badly.
Now, she and her child are homeless. They have been living out of her car for almost a year.
She manages to find emergency shelter and is relieved that her and her child are now in a room instead of the car and “safe.”
She shares her feelings of despair, loneliness and dread with the counselor. The difficulties she feels trying to raise her child in the situations she is in. Next thing she knows, the POLICE are there asking her to check into a clinic to get “help.”
She panics. She is terrified. Her child now must be removed from her. She obliges and goes.
72 hours she is in getting “help.”
She leaves with a horrific and traumatizing experience and a prescription for Zoloft.
She is at the end of her rope.
CPS now has a file on her and her child. If this goes as most of the other stories go, she will eventually lose her child. Someone who is “fostering to adopt” will be the child’s new parent and you can add that trauma and pain to Mary’s wounds.
Mary will most likely stay homeless (now she has no reason to go on fighting), she will drink more, smoke weed more or even get into harder drugs to numb the pain. These addictions will keep her in the cycle of drug/alcohol abuse and on the streets that leads to a life of abuse and prostitution.
Folks, Mary did what we asked her to do.
We asked her to call 2-1-1. She did.
We asked her to come into emergency shelter. She did.
We asked her to be honest and open and share what her needs are. She did.
And what did that get her? A bottle of Zoloft and a CPS file.
In my 21 years on the streets, those results are never good.
Our system is BROKEN.
We need ADVOCATES, not more caseworkers.
We need MISSIONARIES, not more social workers.
We need to be more concerned for Mary’s life and soul than we are about bottom lines, government grant processes and protocols.
#sofesa #homelesslife #parentalrights #advocates #missionaries
Jess Echeverry is a women and family ADVOCATE, speaker and author. She has 20+ years of Executive Director experience with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. She has first hand experience with homelessness and other social justice topics that give her the perspective and understanding needed to successfully help others.
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