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Parents monitored by DCFS get second chance

September 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
They've been through addiction, and some have spent time in prison. But on Thursday a group of moms and dads got a new lease on life.

"I have seven children and I've been an addict since I was 15," said Marie Rosa.

It wasn't too long ago that Rosa was among the parents closely monitored by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

"I was the type of client that when I got that knock on my door, I was the type that would tell my kids to shut off the lights and shut the TV off and hide underneath the door and wait till I see your footsteps walk away," said Rosa. "Because you were not going to get me, you were not going to take my children anymore."

But on Thursday, Rosa is a new person. She is a member of DCFS' Parents in Partnership (PIP). She's now drug-free, reunited with her children and actually employed by the department she once despised.

"I'm not going to lie when I first seen the thing that DCFS wants to celebrate me, I was like I do not want to go see DCFS," said Julie Emory, who is a part of PIP. "I was like my case is closed."

Like Rosa, Emory's children were also taken away from her. But she too is now part of the PIP program.

"Now I know DCFS on a whole new level and I understand why they took my children back then," said Emory. "I'm glad they took my children back then."

Rosa and Emory are among the 40 former DCFS clients now in the PIP volunteer program providing support and guidance to parents whose children have been removed from their care.

DCFS officials say the program has been instrumental in the reunifications of thousands of children and their families.

"The parents have the ability to really connect with them one-on-one, in a group setting sometimes, from the standpoint of how do you actually live in a different way so that your children can live with you?" said Nina Powell-McCall from DCFS. "Because we know the parents, although they have various issues, they love their children and they want them to be home with them."

Parents in Partnership has been so successful that the department hopes to double the number of parent volunteers and expand the program to all 18 regional offices.


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