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Life-Saving Support Creates Promising Futures for Young People

Before she could walk, Cherokee was neglected and physically abused by her parents. She was removed from her home at age 3 and placed with relatives, where she continued to experience neglect as well as physical and sexual abuse until the age of 5.

Cherokee thought she found a safe haven when she was adopted by her grandparents, but the physical and emotional abuse intensified and continued for seven more years. “I started suffering from self-harm and suicidal thoughts when I was 7 years old.”

Suicide rates have doubled in South Dakota in the past decade.
In 2022, suicide was the leading cause of death for individuals age 10 to 29.

Cherokee was removed from the home and placed in her first foster home at age 12. She recounts her life story vividly, chronicling the events as if they were happening in real time. Her experiences were real, painful and traumatizing.

After foster care, Cherokee needed help getting on her feet. She connected with Independent Living Services at LSS, where she met Denise.

“What I learned at LSS was lifesaving,” Cherokee said. “If I was struggling with a situation, Denise would be the one I would call, and we would talk it through. Denise was the adult in my life who gave me guidance, support and discipline.”

“The things I learned were lifesaving because when you become an adult, you need to know how to balance your checkbook, budget, open a bank account, look for places to live and sign a lease. Even teaching me how to research and look for resources helped,” she said.

Today, Cherokee is coping with her past experiences and trauma. She is succeeding and self-sufficient, aspiring to advocate for and support young people.

“I’ve helped others who have had to learn everything on their own. I’ve helped them research jobs, look for a place to live and balance their bank account. Now, I think those things are not that hard. But it is. It is if you haven’t been taught.”

Cherokee’s future is bright, and she is optimistic about what her future holds.

Follow this link to learn more about LSS Independent Living Services.

Independent Living Services for young adults is one of many services offered through LSS. Other services include adoption, pregnancy counseling, foster care, kinship services, child care and education, disaster response, behavioral health services, re-entry services, Center for Financial Resources, residential services for children and youth, alternatives to detention, mentoring, Better Together, Center for New Americans, Multi-Cultural Center, Resource Family Services and CARES Wraparound Services.

LSS serves people of all ages, races, faiths and economic levels with professional, confidential and affordable services. LSS services are licensed by the state of South Dakota and accredited by the Council on Accreditation.