A.J. came to YSI’s Youth Emergency Service (YES) in August 2018. At the age of 12, she was removed from her family after the Department of Human Services became involved due to allegations of truancy. When DHS arrived to the home to begin their investigation, it was discovered by a DHS social worker that the hot water heater was broken. This led to a decision that the child would need to be removed from the home, and DHS proceeded to obtain an Order of Protective Custody. DHS indicated that the child could return when the hot water heater was fixed, and the child was enrolled back in school. A.J. was then brought to YES.

Since this was A.J.’s first placement outside of the home, she was assigned to the Family Reunification program. From day one her service coordinator (like a social worker) was assigned to help the child be reunited with her mother as soon as possible and before needing another placement. Her mother was able to use her savings to have the hot water heater serviced and repaired within the first two weeks that A.J. was placed at YES. During that time, A.J. was enrolled in public school by her service coordinator and was able to get back on track for academic success.

After the issues that caused the youth to be removed from her home were successfully corrected, A.J. and her mother should have been granted reunification. However, the family had to work through challenging family court policies which lead to several court dates that extended the youth’s stay at YES.

While going to repeated court dates, A.J.’s mother was asked to go to parenting classes and to seek mental health treatment. Although mother was hesitant as these issues had nothing to do with placement, she complied with the encouragement of her service coordinator. A.J.’s mother completed a 12 week parenting course and was able to present her certificate in court. She also went to an evaluation for mental health treatment and it was determined that she did not need on going treatment. The mother maintained her patience and completed what was asked of her in order to gain back custody of her children.

While at YES, A.J. showed great strength and resilience, as she maintained a very positive attitude and influence on her peers. She was able to express herself artistically and creatively while participating in the Wellness Program at YES. A.J. was also re-connected with her biological father and was able to begin visiting with him and forming a very strong positive bond.

After 9 months, with encouragement and support from Family Reunification staff, A.J.’s mother was able to persevere through the difficult and trying system, and was granted reunification in April of 2019. We celebrate A.J. and her family.