Mark and Susan have been sober for a year and moved to Sweet Home in August of 2017 with their son Billy, hoping to make a fresh start. After struggling to find housing and resources, Mark and Susan were forced to live in a tent by the river. As a result, DHS became involved in their lives in October, and Billy was removed from their care. They took a bus once a week to DHS to visit with Billy.
Imagine you are Billy, a 4-year-old boy who loves his parents very much and hates only getting to see them once a week. Billy struggled with seeing his parents so stressed out.
In February of 2018, Mark and Susan were referred to Family Tree Relief Nursery by their DHS Child Welfare caseworker. Within a week of working with a Family Navigator and Visitation Coach, Mark and Susan moved into one of the shelters in Albany and were able to visit Billy twice a week for 4 hours at Family Tree Relief Nursery, where we have therapeutic and welcoming visitation rooms. In their first week in Albany, Mark and Susan were connected to community resources like CHANCE, who assisted them in obtaining their Birth Certificates so they could get their Oregon IDs. Thanks to the kindness of our donors, we were also able to assist Mark in getting steel-toed boots to start work at a job found through connecting him with All-Star Labor and Staffing in Albany. Mark was able to obtain a full-time position with benefits. Susan has also been connected with medical resources to help her deal with a chronic illness. Both Mark and Susan also enrolled in our weekly parent education class.
Since partnering with Family Tree Relief Nursery, Mark and Susan have made huge strides in meeting their goals. After months of hard work, Mark and Susan were able to clear their biggest hurdle: housing. After completing numerous application, Mark and Susan were finally rewarded with their second chance and were approved for an apartment; their first home together. With the help of their Family Navigator and their DHS Child Welfare Caseworker, Mark and Susan were able to move in less than a week after being approved. Staff connected Mark and Susan with Furniture Share in Corvallis and were able to get their new home furnished. Mark and Susan have moved into Community Visits with their Family Tree Visitation Coach, where they are able to take Billy into the community during supervised visits. They enjoy many activities as a family including swimming at the YMCA, going to the arcade and visiting the Albany Carousel.
As a result of their hard work and partnership with Family Tree Relief Nursery, Billy was able to be reunited with his parents in early June of 2018. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we were able to present Billy with a "Welcome Home Basket" full of toys, books, sheets, and more so he could truly celebrate being reunited with his parents (see above picture).
Billy’s story isn’t unusual. In Linn County, there are 6,789 children who are considered to be At-Risk.