It's an epidemic in our country. Heroin addiction can destroy a family.
When parents are addicted it creates unsafe conditions for children, often resulting in their removal from the home.
13 ON YOUR SIDE'S Meredith Ter Haar introduces us to a program that's keeping families together by working very closely with the parents.
Daley Petrak of Wayland is celebrating 9 months clean. And thanks to the Families First Preservation Program with Samaritas, she and her son are thriving together.
Daley and Collin look like any other mom and spunky 2 year old, but their story could have been very different.
"I nearly died so that was a huge eye opener," said Daley. After struggling with alcohol abuse for years, a boyfriend introduced her to heroin. "I thought, what is one time going to hurt and that is all it took. Then I found out I was pregnant and I considered an abortion because I couldn't stop using. Then I went back to AA and stayed clean for the rest of my pregnancy."
Alcoholism had cost her custody of her first three children, she was determined not to lose Collin to opioid addiction. But after he was born, a relapse almost cost her her life. "I realized that I had really screwed up and I was willing to do whatever it took," said Daley.
That's where CPS and Samaritas' Families First Program comes in. "Families First is a 28 day program. Our staff work with only two families at a time, so its very intensive," said Laura Mitchell, the executive director of foster care for Samaritas. "They spend a lot of time with the families one-on-one to make improvements with parenting skills with housing, with employment, to again make that family a safe place for the child.
"We dive deep with families around very critical issues because the kids are at risk of leaving the home."
Nicole Ghellar is the Families First worker who helped Daley succeed. "We accomplished so much," said Nicole. With Nicole's help, Daley secured Section 8 funding for her apartment, and also got a car. "Now the plan is to get part time work and then try to go to school part time and find a career that is fulfilling," said Daley.
"Seeing them together and just the relationship that they have, seeing Collin give her hugs and kisses and them play together, it's just it's awesome," said Nicole.
Collin is her motivation to stay clean.
"He is such a blessing to me and my family. You know his father and I are both heroin addicts, I'm in recovery obviously, and so for him I think its huge that I show him a different way of life so that hopefully he never has to go through the same issues," said Daley.
She has these words of wisdom if you are struggling with addiction: "People don't care where you've been, they care where you are at and where you are going. I remember that on a daily basis because I feel like people's guilt over what they've done will hold them back from getting clean or sober," said Daley.
If you'd like to learn more about Samaritas and their Families First Program, click here.