During the month of June, we recognize the achievements of parents and communities who work tirelessly to reunify families. Click here to read our blog about National Reunification Month and why reunification matters. Hear about reunification from an attorney’s perspective at this link.
The continuing story of Caitlyn* and Sherri* through a case manager’s perspective
‘Advocating for the Child’
Barbara Huebsch is an Adoption Case Manager with more than 25 years of experience in various types of work in social services, including working with children with disabilities. “Case management is case management,” she explains. “You’re advocating for the child and linking them and referring them to support services.”
Adoption Case Managers provide support to children available for adoption and coordinate necessary services for the well-being of children and their permanency needs.
Barbara was first assigned to Caitlyn* in October 2022. She was in a foster home at the time with a plan for adoption. Because Caitlyn was 15 years old, she had a voice in the final decision for her permanent home. She felt this foster home would not be a good fit for permanency and believed a try for reunification with her mother was best for her.
Having been removed from the foster home, Caitlyn experienced constant moving from one facility to the next, until she was placed in “night-to-night” care. Children in a night-to-night situation don’t always know where they are going each night, creating instability and safety concerns. Caitlyn began talking with her mother and knew reunification would work best.
“[Caitlyn had] no stability. That’s when Caitlyn’s mother, Sherri*, reached out to Patricia Alpen, Attorney, and began the process of reunification after she met the criteria,” Barbara explains.
For Barbara, one of the obstacles was the Court. “Judge was hesitant because of the back history,” Barbara says, yet when provided proof of what had been accomplished by Sherri, her tenacity and determination to have Caitlyn back with her brought about change.
The judge realized Caitlyn would be in a safer, more stable and secure home with her mom than continuing with the night-to-night program. “Sherri’s proactive approach to meet the criteria and goals confirmed her home was the best place for Caitlyn,” Barbara says. “Mom was a better option than night-to-night.”
Barbara continued supporting them with advice and services. She guided Sherri to create a safe, stable home environment for Caitlyn. One piece of advice Barbara provided was to make sure the home was large enough for them and recommended a bigger place. “They did it immediately. They did everything that was requested of them.”
“Sherri had really overcome a lot and turned her life around. This is definitely a good example of why they came up with this — because people do change over time. Sherri works full time, stepdad works, and Caitlyn has her own room and bathroom, so she has privacy. She also got a puppy!
“Caitlyn is definitely better to be with her mother, and she knows her mom is not going to give up on her. Better than night-to-night or being somewhere else,” Barbara reflects. “Definitely a success case for me. At the end, it was the right thing for Caitlyn.”
Why does Barbara do this? “I like that everybody is different. And each day is different. It’s fulfilling.”
Quest for Closure
Caitlyn and Sherri came to a happy healthy conclusion through reunification. Much of Barbara’s work is creating permanent families through adoptions. In both cases, the rewarding part for Barbara is seeing a family come together — in particular “the adoptions in court. The adoptions in front of the judge are the most rewarding thing ever. Just to get you to that end result. All the work up to that day and seeing the smiles. Finalizations makes you stay doing this work.”
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.
FSS offers and oversee services that help families get back on track. Click here to find local supports.
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