This is the story of a single mother who soon after becoming very sick with a cancer that was difficult to cure, lost her job and with it, her insurance. Ultimately this resulted in her falling behind on her bills, losing her home and her supports.
Becoming homeless was terrifying as it would be for most of us, and the stress caused by having to move into a shelter in an area of the state where she did not know anyone, without even enough money to make cell phone calls, pay the copay on her anti-anxiety medication, or even buy a bus pass so she could look for a job, caused her to panic and ultimately need hospitalization.
The feelings of helplessness this young mother felt when she was no longer able to give her kids the stable life she had always expected to be able to provide them with, were devastating to her. Anxiety over her family’s future made it difficult for the mother to present herself well when the social worker wrote the report about her current circumstances. Ultimately the Department of Children and Families (DCF), determined that her children needed to remain in foster care far longer than she had originally anticipated, because of mothers’ “situational” mental health concerns.
It is a little too simple to say that DCF did not return children who were entrusted to them solely while a parent needed to be hospitalized, it is about how the stress of poverty and mother’s inability to secure the resources needed to quickly pull herself back up made it almost impossible for her to calm down and show everyone that she could safely parent her children.
As we know, our perceptions are our own reality. We all see the truth differently, especially when it involves ourselves. These situations are complicated, and while it might seem to some that the story below is about overstepping by a state agency, to others the problem and the response will be more nuanced. Certainly, poverty was a huge stressor in this case, but so were the mental health concerns that followed… Finding ways to help this young mother get back on her feet was key and required the support of many. One Can help stepped in to provide some of the missing resources that ultimately helped her get back on course.