Last year, 26-year-old Jennifer Franklin* faced one of the biggest challenges of her life. When her daughter Makayla was just one year old, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) took Makayla from her home and placed her in foster care. Jennifer loved her daughter and wanted to be a good mom, so she turned to Lutheran Services of Georgia’s Family Intervention Services (FIS) to help get her life back on track and bring her daughter back home.
Jennifer's own childhood was difficult. As a teen, she turned to drugs to help her cope - starting with marijuana at age 14 and moving on to cocaine at 18. When her daughter Makayla was born, Jennifer worked on staying clean and focused on being a good parent. However, when Jennifer's father became sick, she found herself repeating the patterns of her youth. She suffered from depression and began using drugs again to deal with the stress of her father's illness.
Makayla’s removal from their home was the wake-up call Jennifer needed. In November, she began in the Supervised Family Visitation program at LSG’s Savannah location. Jennifer participated in family visitation, parenting group, and anger management counseling through LSG, while regularly participating in substance abuse and individual counseling through another agency.
It wasn’t easy. Jennifer struggled at different times through the program, especially as she was trying to find the right depression medication and dealing with her father’s death. Uncertain about her ability to parent, she would often times become paralyzed by her fears.
The FIS staff took time to encourage her and to keep her moving forward in the right direction, checking in when she tried to withdraw and encouraging her not to give up. Through the support of the program, Jennifer completed her counseling and found a full-time job. She built an active, positive support system in her community. She was reunified with Makayla in June.
As a part of the DFCS plan, Jennifer receives follow up visits to ensure that she is continuing to succeed as a parent. With support of the FIS staff and through her own determination, Jennifer continues to grow in her parenting skills and abilities. Now, caring for her daughter has become Jennifer’s number one priority. She’s successfully maintained her sobriety and mental health while creating a safe environment for her daughter.
For more information on Lutheran Services of Georgia’s Family Intervention Services, visit lsga.org.
*Names have been changed.