The story of one young woman and her family helps illustrate the overlap between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Emma’s mother was the victim of childhood abuse and neglect. At the age of fifteen, she was forced to leave her home when her parents discovered she was pregnant. She was placed in foster care and was later diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and major depression. She struggled for many years with severe mental health difficulties, requiring numerous psychiatric hospitalizations, all while trying to raise her own family.
Emma’s father struggled with addiction and had become heavily involved in the court system due to ongoing domestic violence in the home.
Emma first entered the child welfare system at age six. She was removed from her home due to chronic concerns for her care and safety. She faced a series of foster homes, group homes, and short-term acute stabilization placements. These placements were further disrupted by Emma’s tendency to run away and remain missing for weeks to months at a time. She was psychiatrically hospitalized several times due to her risk of suicide. Emma became court-involved after being charged with assault and battery against a peer and then violating her probation. The judge expressed concerns about her mental health and referred her to ACS for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.
Emma’s clinician recognized that her extensive trauma history was at the root of her troubling behaviors. The ACS clinician identified her impulsivity, agitation, and suicidal thoughts as symptoms of complex PTSD. Due to so many out of home placements, Emma had lacked the structure and stability needed to consistently engage in mental health treatment. She had fallen far behind academically and had missed nearly two and a half years of school. She was at high risk for dropping out.
With the collaboration of Emma’s DCF case worker, the ACS clinician advocated strongly for Emma to be placed in a long-term, specialized residential facility. This therapeutic setting would provide the stability and support she so desperately needed to begin to heal and make meaningful progress toward her recovery.
*To protect confidentiality, ACS does not use the names, photos, or identifying features of our clients.
"With the collaboration of Emma’s DCF case worker, the ACS clinician advocated strongly for Emma to be placed in a long-term, specialized residential facility. This therapeutic setting would provide the stability and support she so desperately needed to begin to heal and make meaningful progress toward her recovery."