Sarah was a shy little thing with strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and light freckles across her nose. She loved to play with her calico cat, Patches. She was 7 years old when her mother started dating Dave. At first, Dave was super nice. He’d bring Sarah candy and toys and he was always happy. He’d shower her mom with gifts like flowers and jewelry. They would order pizza and watch movies or go to the park and she’d swing as high as she could until she thought she could almost touch the treetop. After a while, Dave moved in.
Dave loved to have parties. But these parties were never fun for Sarah. She’d have to stay in her room the whole time. The music was loud and Dave’s friends would say bad words that she could hear through the door. Sometimes, one of the “adults” would stumble into Sarah’s room looking for the bathroom. She eventually learned that this is what someone looks and acts like when they drink alcohol or do drugs. She had never seen this behavior before. Dave and Sarah’s mom started arguing about the mess his friends left and the money being spent. Sarah told her mom she didn’t like the parties and having to stay in her room. She told her the house smelled like a skunk during parties and she didn’t like it. Her mom told her that they needed to let Dave have his parties because, after all, they were only on weekends and he bought them nice things and helped with the bills.
Sarah was so tired on Monday mornings because Sunday was still considered the weekend to Dave which meant a party would take place. Sarah’s teacher asked her questions. “Are you feeling ok? Are you having trouble sleeping?” One night, Sarah was in her room drawing with her markers while Patches slept at the foot of her bed. Dave was hosting another one of his parties when, unexpectedly, a police officer came into her room. The police officer was very kind, but took her out to their car while she saw Dave and her mom get put into other police cars. What was going on?
Now Sarah is living with strangers. The social worker said they are her “foster parents.” She doesn’t know what that means. Sarah wants her mom. Sarah misses Patches. Sarah wants to go home.
Sarah, Dave, and Sarah’s mom are who Family Advocates serves. We believe we have the tools to help all of them. We believe that we can prevent children like Sarah from ever having to feel alone, leave their home or not be listened to by their parent… or any other adult. We believe that adults like Dave and Sarah’s mom can be taught not only how to make better choices for themselves and their families, but they can gain the skills needed to be resilient in all types of situations. We also understand that the “Sarah’s” of the world exist and they deserve to have their voices heard. We believe that if a judge knows more about the entire situation from the child’s perspective, they can make the best determination for that child’s well-being. They hear from the child, the teacher, friends, family… all because of a volunteer Guardian ad Litem.
By training parents on the Five Protective Factors during Family Strengthening Groups, we believe we can stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. By recruiting and training volunteers with a passion to help children and strengthen families, we believe we are able to reach more families and more foster children who need our help.
In order to do this work, it takes support from the community. Support that comes in many forms. On October 21, Family Advocates will be hosting our annual Welcome Home event. This year, as you can imagine, it will look a little different. Our event will be hosted virtually, but will open up so many possibilities! We invite you to join us with your family and friends to learn more about the impact of Family Advocates. Hear directly from those like Sarah that have gone through life-changing experiences, but were able to receive the support of Family Advocates and community members like you! Save the date. Follow our social media as we will share more information on event details and registration as we get closer:
LinkedIn: Family Advocates – Boise Website: www.familyadvocates.com