Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Inc.

Impact Stories: Supported Parenting

From Foster Homes to Motherhood

Growing up, Sierra was in foster care, faced mental health challenges, and experienced homelessness on-and-off since entering adulthood. All these adversities shaped what kind of parent Sierra knew she wanted to be: she promised herself that her daughter would not go through what she had.

Earlier this year, when Sierra connected with Catholic Charities’ Supported Parenting program, she was quick to boast about her newborn daughter, Samaya. With Catholic Charities’ help, Sierra secured housing in a safe neighborhood, connected with resources to furnish the new home, and was provided with much-needed baby care items and clothing.

Perhaps most importantly, her family support worker helped her connect with her childhood therapist in order to reinitiate therapy. This has helped decrease the severity and regularity of the unpredictable mental health episodes she still experiences. As Sierra has grown to be more confident in herself and as a parent, she made the courageous decision to ask Catholic Charities to help her sign up for school and apply for financial aid.

Fast forward to now: Sierra is attending community college and is ready to enter the workforce. Samaya is a healthy and happy baby who is on track developmentally. “I’m not sure where I or my daughters would be if not for my Family Support Worker and this program,” Sierra says. “I’m in a much better place and want my daughter to be proud of me.”

 

Meet Daniela

 

Daniela had little income when her son Jacob was born. An unhealthy relationship with Jacob's father made matters worse. She began to feel hopeless. Weighed down by a history of substance abuse and mental health issues, Daniela thought, "How will I provide a healthy home for my growing son?"

When Jacob was 3 weeks old, Daniela approached Catholic Charities Supported Parenting Program for help. At first, she felt overwhelmed by the process of goal setting. She shared her feelings of hopelessness and self-doubt with Sarah, Director of the Supported Parenting Program, who served as her family support worker. Daniela was exhausted from sleepless nights alone caring for Jacob.

With Sarah's help, she worked to prioritize goals, breaking each larger goal into more attainable steps. Daniela received counseling services from a Catholic Charities therapist to help alleviate her feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness. Sarah accompanied Daniela and Jacob to doctor's visits and provided essential education about childcare and parenting. When Daniela returned to work, Sarah helped complete paperwork for day care services and find access to childcare funding.

With consistent home visits, parenting education, role-modeling and compassionate support from her family support worker, Daniela built her self-esteem and confidence as a woman and a mother. She joyfully and lovingly provides care for her son Jacob, who continues to thrive.

 

Meet Amaya

 

It takes strength to ask for help. With a one-year-old and a baby on the way, Amaya needed a safe home. Amaya was given Catholic Charities’ number, and her phone call changed the course of her and her children’s lives. Catholic Charities’ family support worker, Alexis, quickly began to help her find safe housing and make sure that she had access to food, baby supplies, transportation, and health care.

Through the Supported Parenting Program, Alexis visits weekly at Amaya’s home and provides positive parenting skills and guides Amaya in recognizing healthy choices for her girls including what to eat, good sleep routines, how to play, and what to watch on TV. Amaya says, “Alexis is a good person to be with. I love her!” And Alexis shares, “Amaya is absolutely a great mother who just wants happiness for her girls.”

 

Meet Sabrina

 

Sabrina is a loving mother of two girls. She has challenges of her own and at-home schooling required during the pandemic was especially difficult without the technology needed and internet service. She feared that her girls would fall behind in school and was overwhelmed not knowing how to help. Continuing to provide service during the pandemic, our Supported Parenting Program gave Sabrina the in-person support she needed.

Visiting her home multiple times throughout the week, her family support worker helped Sabrina establish a routine for her girls. She also helped Sabrina acquire computers through community partnerships so her girls could participate in school. They continue to meet regularly and work on positive parenting skills. Sabrina has grown in her confidence and ability to care for her daughters. 

 

Meet Daniel's Family

 

Daniel’s smile is a reflection of his parents' unending love. Both mom and dad have intellectual disabilities and have received regular home visits through our Supported Parenting Program since Daniel was just one year old. Sarah, our family support worker, provides in-home parenting education and assistance with community services for mom, dad, and Daniel who is on the Autism Spectrum. As Daniel has grown, Sarah has helped the family receive medical and dental services. When Daniel was ready for school, she attended meetings with mom, dad, and teachers to assist with individualized education plans for Daniel. 

The Supported Parenting Program helps mom and dad be advocates for the services Daniel needs, and our staff is their partner in working with providers. When schools closed during the pandemic, Sarah helped the family navigate virtual learning. She was also there to help Daniel’s mom through her grieving for the loss of her father due to Covid-19. Daniel’s mom and dad have expressed so much appreciation for how our program has supported them through the years and helped them feel more confident and comfortable in the decisions they make for their child. 

 

Meet Michaela

 

Michaela and her daughter, Bonnie, worked with Sarah, her Catholic Charities’ family support worker for three years before COVID-19 changed family life for everyone. In this time, Michaela grew in her knowledge and confidence to care for Bonnie, and Bonnie was ready for school and thriving. When COVID-19 caused schools to shut down, Michaela and Bonnie struggled with navigating online classes and adapting to their new situation. Making regular home visits, following health guidelines, Sarah started her mornings at Michaela and Bonnie’s house. She would help them log on to Bonnie’s Zoom classes and plan their day together. A strong start to their day was all they needed to be successful with online school.

“We see many parents struggling to balance their own work in addition to learning how to navigate virtual school. When the parent has a developmental disability, this struggle is only amplified. I’m so proud of Michaela. She is working hard to make sure Bonnie gets through this transition.” shares Sarah.

 

Meet Gabriela

 

Gabriela gave birth to her daughter, Zoe, in 2019 and was referred to our Supported Parenting Program by the hospital. She has her father and aunt who provide support, and Gabriela was determined to learn as much as she could to be a good mother to her daughter. Our Catholic Charities’ Family Support Worker started out doing activities with Gabriela and Zoe, such as floor time and tummy time, and creating a routine to help with Zoe’s sleep schedule and feedings. Gabriela keeps track of all the information that was shared about Zoe’s development.

Zoe is now six months and is thriving, reaching new milestones. Gabriela’s aunt came to visit again for the holidays and continues to be a wonderful natural support for Gabriela and Zoe. “My aunt and Family Support Worker have made me a more confident parent. I feel so great as a parent now.”

 

Meet Tanisha


Tanisha and her son have been enrolled in our Supported Parenting program for the past three years. In that time, Tanisha and her Family Support Worker have worked together to help her son reach his developmental milestones.

“Sarah has been there for me so much. She has taught me about being consistent, having a good routine and helping my son to be healthy and strong. But in addition to that, Sarah has been there to listen to me as well. I have struggled with so many things and Sarah is there for me and helps me when I’m feeling down or hopeless. I don’t have a lot of support and Sarah has always had an ear available to talk things out. I can be very hard on myself but she’s there for me. Sarah’s support and listening helps me feel better about myself and makes me a better mother overall.”

 

Meet Mark


Mark connected with Catholic Charities three years ago because he needed help with parenting skills.  He was a single father with a one year old son. Adding the very real challenges of an intellectual disability and Autism, Mark didn’t know how to be a good dad.

He began meeting weekly with a family support worker from our Supported Parenting Program. During their in home visits, they focus on nurturing skills, developmentally appropriate milestones, establishing a daily routine including a family rules chart, and how to be consistent with positive discipline. Mark enjoys problem solving with his family support worker and learns new skills from her. The family support worker also advocates for Mark with healthcare professionals, teachers and others who can help them.

Mark has become more independent and confident in his parenting. He is an active participant in all aspects of his son’s life, including school now that he is in kindergarten. Mark continues to work with his family support worker and enjoys being the best dad possible.

 

Catholic Charities

Mailing Address: PO Box 070912
                            Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Delivery Address: 3501 S. Lake Drive
                             St. Francis, WI 53235

Office Locations and Phone Numbers
info@ccmke.org


Serving our neighbors in need in Dodge, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties.

 

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