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Family Finds Strength to Heal From Chaos

LSS CARES Wraparound Services strengthens families by helping them identify needs and make a plan to accomplish their goals. The LSS team ensures that the family’s voice is heard, their choices and decisions are respected and that all members feel healthy, safe and accepted throughout the process.

All it takes is one unexpected turn to uproot a stable, healthy family and send them spinning. These families may be tempted to brace hardship alone; however, just a bit of extra help can make a world of difference. Such was the story for Tara and her family.

Tara and her husband moved to Sioux Falls eight years ago. Together, the couple started a business, had two children and worked hard to give their family a happy life. For a while, everything seemed wonderful.

However, about three years into the business, things changed. Tara’s husband started using drugs and began to abuse her. The abuse culminated in a serious incident that resulted in his arrest. Once he was sent to prison, money grew tight, and Tara struggled to remain afloat as a single mother.

“I’d never had to ever worry about anything. If we needed milk or food, I’d just go to the store,” Tara said. “Suddenly, I’m calling 700 different numbers asking for food or a ride because I don’t have a car, just stressing, stressing, stressing.”

The situation got even worse. An accidental raid called on Tara’s family compounded their trauma, souring all memories of their home and prompting a move to a smaller town house.

“My kids have been through a lot,” Tara explained. “Things were affecting them, but they didn’t want to tell me their problems.”

Tara’s son started exhibiting frequent bursts of anger, and his speech and behaviors grew from disrespectful to destructive. Tara reached a breaking point when her 9-year-old daughter threatened to hurt herself.

“I had two jobs and was working constantly. My daughter just wanted to be with me, but she didn’t tell me that; she expressed it a different way because I wasn’t paying attention.”

A counselor at the kids’ school asked Tara if she’d heard of LSS CARES Wraparound Services.

“I thought it was for my kids, that maybe it could help them — I didn’t realize it was for our whole family.”

Initially, Tara felt embarrassed to ask for help. That changed when she sat down with her CARES Wraparound family partner, Angel.

“Something just told me I could trust her,” Tara recalled. “I’ve just always felt comfortable with her.”

During that meeting, Angel encouraged Tara to pour out everything on her plate — from grocery bills to car problems to fights with her kids. Angel made a list, and together they focused on addressing one problem at a time, starting with counseling for the children.

“That bit of extra help really meant something,” Tara said. “I’d just given up on everything, but Angel said, ‘Come on, let’s do it together.'”

For a long time, Tara frantically fought off eviction notices and bill collectors, all the while worrying about how to feed her kids. Angel and the CARES Wraparound team connected Tara with a credit counselor and educator with the LSS Center for Financial Resources who helped her understand and prioritize her expenses.

“He explains things very well and tells me not to worry about certain things,” Tara said. “Now, I’m not concerned about putting food on the table. It’s just dropped a lot off my shoulders.”

The team also helped Tara sign up for Medicaid — a benefit she thought she’d never qualify for.

“It’s been tremendously helpful for my children. I could never take them to the dentist or the doctor because it was too expensive, but now I can.”

Currently, Tara’s main goals center around strengthening her family and repairing the years of bitterness and miscommunication.

“I’m seeing a lot of good things happening,” she said. “I’m amazed because I didn’t think that would ever happen again.”

Beyond helping with resources and support, Angel and the LSS team focus on building a close, intentional relationship with Tara’s family. Over the holidays, when Tara was unable to work and couldn’t afford presents, Angel showed up with gifts for both the kids.

“I about cried because she didn’t have to do that. It was amazing for my children — they loved it. It put a smile on their faces.”

While there’s still plenty of healing to be done, Tara feels confident about the direction in which her family is moving. She encourages others who experience similar situations not to let anything get in the way of seeking support.

“My heart is totally different because of what I went through,” Tara explained. “There are so many people who think they can do it on their own, but that extra help really does make a difference.”

If you or someone in your life would benefit from a referral to LSS CARES Wraparound Services, email or call 605-403-8038 for information or to find out if CARES Wraparound Services are available in your community.

An LSS CARES Wraparound team member will contact families after a referral is made to set up an introductory meeting for them to learn more about CARES Wraparound Services. Families have the choice to enroll, and there is no obligation to participate.

LSS CARES Wraparound Services is made possible through a grant from Lutheran Services in America and is a part of Lutheran Services in America’s Family Stabilization Initiative.