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Family Finds Way Forward Through LSS Alternatives to Detention

Over time, families grow and change, and encounter new and complex challenges. At LSS, these families find strength as they learn to communicate and work through obstacles, each member receiving the support they need to be healthy, safe and accepted.

Andrea came to the United States to escape violence and corruption. Now, as a mother of four, she works hard to provide for her children. She sacrifices her own comfort to see them succeed because education is so important to her. Andrea never imagined her children would get into serious trouble, so when she received a call that her oldest daughter had been picked up by law enforcement and brought to the Arise Reception Center, she felt devastated.

“My experience with the Reception Center was unreal because I never thought my children would be involved with breaking the law,” Andrea said.

Arise, which provides a safe environment for youths to wait for their parent or an approved adult, is designed to support youths by keeping them out of locked detention centers and decreasing their likelihood of justice involvement later in life. Arise staff complete screenings and offer resources to help strengthen families.

“The Reception Center has been a great support, knowing my children didn’t have to go to JDC,” Andrea said. “I know that by being at Arise, my children were treated as they should be.”

Through her experience with Arise, Andrea was connected to several LSS services, including the Center for New Americans and CARES Wraparound Services. Her most foundational resource, though, came in the form of her case manager, Estela.

‘She’s an angel sent to my life’

“I’ve always told Estela that she’s an angel sent to my life,” Andrea said. “The day I had to leave my own mother when I came here was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. To meet Estela was like gaining the support and care of a mother.”

Estela provided Andrea with the understanding and support that families naturally give to each other.

“I tried to put myself in her shoes,” Estela said. “I’m an immigrant myself, but I came married after meeting my husband in the Navy. I didn’t have to escape my country to avoid violence like she did. So we came from different circumstances, but I really do feel what it’s like to be an immigrant and to know how others view you.”

Around the time she met Estela, Andrea was transitioning out of a turbulent and emotionally abusive situation. The weight of her circumstances made it difficult to stay on top of things, like the immigration application she had going with the Center for New Americans.

Estela came alongside Andrea to help her progress, assisting her in securing a form of legal identification and finding her family a place to live when they were temporarily unhoused. But overcoming the emotional effects of instability took more work. Andrea’s relationship with her oldest children grew increasingly strained as the two fell into trouble more frequently.

“There were times that Andrea would call me to help defuse the situation. That was how she began to learn how to utilize different approaches with her children,” Estela said.

Andrea experienced a breakthrough while attending a parenting class called Love & Logic. She realized how she grew up — without healthy communication, with no acknowledgment of trauma or help to work through it — left her without the tools to properly communicate with her children. After gaining additional support through CARES Wraparound Services, Andrea finally had the clarity, confidence and skills to move forward.

“Wraparound Services helped our family communicate more effectively and helped me get to know my son better,” Andrea said. “I learned more things about him, our relationship improved, and we didn’t argue like before. Now, I feel capable of dealing with everyday life as a mom. Thanks to my experiences and the support of LSS and its services, I’m able to control my emotions — especially when my children don’t make wise decisions.”

While things aren’t perfect, Estela said she has seen immense growth from Andrea and her children over the past couple of years. Andrea’s son is no longer being picked up for truancy, and her daughter is receiving the treatment she needs. Neither child has been in trouble with law enforcement in over a year. Andrea is grateful for LSS and thankful for the support she found in Estela.

“Sometimes, I find myself in situations where I don’t know what to do,” Andrea said. “My hands and feet feel tied. But Estela is always there to support me. Estela always finds a way out of whatever is worrying us. This allows me to continue moving forward, knowing that I’m doing the right thing.”