A Family's Journey

January 6th 2020
This story is about a couple, determined to have their children returned to their care, and to provide a safe and loving home.

Larissa and Jari were gifted with support of a Family Wellness Partner through Miskanawah's Mahmawi-atoskiwin Program to help support them through their journey.  Larissa and Jari are a beautiful couple who have been together for many years and have stayed with each other through all the ups and downs that life often gives us. Larissa and Jari have two daughters ages 4 and 8. It is clearly observed how much love these parents have for each other and their daughters.

Alcohol use, incorrect use of prescription drugs and domestic violence lead to the children coming into care for their own safety and wellbeing. This provided Larissa and Jari the opportunity of time to work on themselves and to plan for a safe return and future for their family.

Larissa and Jari were gifted with the support of a Family Wellness Partner, Ayla Bjerke, through Miskanawah’s Mahmawi-atoskwin Program to help support them through their journey.

During an initial meeting with Children’s Services Case Worker, Alana Hicks and Family Wellness Partner, Ayla, it was clearly evident that Larissa and Jari were ready to do the work to have their children back in their care. Larissa and Jari expressed such shame and guilt in their decisions and events leading up to their children coming into care. Larissa and Jari showed a vulnerability in the way they opened up about their substance use, domestic violence and supports they needed in order to be successful. They never held back with in being open and honest as they understood this would only help them stay on the right track.

Larissa and Jari were able to reflect on how the negative choices they have been making impact on their children’s’ developing brains. They were deeply affected to learn that this was happening to their girls. Larissa and Jari were very open to learning new Nurturing Parenting skills with positive attitudes and the wiliness to grow. Larissa and Jari’s self-determination and motivation paid off as they were able to meet the bottom lines Children’s Services needed to see in order to place the girls back into their loving care.

At Larissa and Jari’s first support meeting they were not able to bring one natural support in with them. During and after this meeting they showed such a determination to seek out supports who would be healthy and reliable for their special family. Meeting after meeting Larissa and Jari developed a safe, loving and dependable natural support circle for their family.

Even though there were struggles along the way, Larissa and Jari were able to reflect, learn and move forward from mistakes. Larissa and Jari moved forward from each set back with even more strength and courage than before.

Cultural supports have been an important part of Larissa and Jari’s journey as well. Larissa and Jari were able to utilize these supports through Mahmawi-atoskiwn to help guide them on the right paths for them. They have made beautiful connections with Elders and a Circle Keeper, attending Feasts and have stated how welcomed they feel in our space. These connections and relationships they have made will continue to guide them in their growth and healing for years to come.

In less than 7 months, Larissa and Jari went from having two supported visits at Mahmawi-atoskiwin’s office, to visits supported at home, then supported by their natural supports. Visit reports showed a clear and positive growth in their parenting ability and the amazing bond this family shares.

Soon it was time to start transitioning the children back home to their parents. Visits increased and were soon daily to the excitement of both parents and children. Larissa and Jari were developing a new routine for themselves and the children with supports needed to set them up for success.

A safety plan created by the whole support team was tested and followed with ease and commitment by Larissa, Jari and their natural supports.

The children were happily returned home to an overjoyed family and a Feast was provided by Mahmawi-atoskwin in the family’s home. Their whole network attended this Feast as well as Mahmawi-atoskiwin’s Elder, Violet March and Circle Keeper, Desi Lindstrom that have provided them with the cultural support and healing needed to be as successful as they have been.

Larissa and Jari had a goal to have their children returned home by Halloween as this was their favorite time of the year. We are proud to share that the girls officially have returned home as of November 7th. Don’t you worry though, the family celebrated Halloween together and were able to count down the days and hours until they didn’t have to leave again.

Collaboration between the Family Wellness Partner and the Children’s Service worker has been a significant key into this successful family journey. Consistent communication, follow through on commitments and expectations along with the unified goal of returning the girls home, is the perfect example of how and why CSD is here to support these families alongside Children’s Services.

A Family’s Journey

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