National Crittenton highlights topline findings of the 2014-2015 administration of the ACE survey at 18 Crittenton agencies in 16 states. This second administration of the ACE survey included additional demographic information, which includes outcomes data and the pilot use of well-being questions. Well-being questions were added in the domains of connection, stress and coping to provide information that would enable for better understanding of the connections between ACEs and well-being.
The OJJDP-funded National Girls Initiative and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) convened a roundtable to discuss the unintended consequences of mandatory and pro-arrest policies for domestic violence on girls and young women. Out of that convening arose this summary report, Unintended Consequences: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence Mandatory and Pro-Arrest Policies and Practices on Girls and Young Women. Our hope is that this summary report fuels a conversation about the unintended consequences and impact of mandatory and pro-arrest domestic violence policies on girls, young women, and women, as well as the disproportionate impact on communities of color. Additionally, it identifies possible areas for future policy and practice reform through collaboration between juvenile justice advocates, advocates for girls, and domestic violence advocates.
The National Crittenton Foundation highlights topline findings of the 2014 administration of the ACE survey at 18 Crittenton agencies in 16 states.
We now know more than ever about the negative impact of childhood adversity and the related trauma that results from exposure. We have also seen firsthand the incredible resiliency, courage and healing of which girls and young women are capable. It is clear that simultaneously supporting parents to heal from their own childhood adversities, while ensuring that their children get the best start possible in life, is a most powerful two-generation strategy.
The National Crittenton Foundation (TNCF) and ASCEND at the Aspen Institute for Beyond ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), hosted a webinar highlighting topline findings of the 2014 administration of the ACEs survey at 18 Crittenton agencies in 16 states. The webinar covers the use of well-being questions, piloted by seven of the participating Crittenton agencies, in domains of connection, coping and stress. The webinar also includes an active orientation to the ACEs Toolkit for Providers.
School became my place of refuge. It was in school that I could escape into another world. I was so determined to do my best at all times. My teachers became the inspiration role models that I needed. I proudly wore the title of teacher’s pet. It was in school that I sought the love and approval that I had bottled up in my heart. I was a student who worked hard, compensated, and pushed myself to overcome academic obstacles so that I could come out shining. Report cards were my medals of honor.
However, the solace I found in school was constantly diminished by the fear that existed behind the doors of my home. As I entered into adolescence, I leaned on my friends for guidance in the area of teenage sex and pregnancy. I was naïve in thinking that the young man I was fond of cared about the consequences of unprotected sex as much as I did. My self-esteem and self-worth was so low that it didn’t matter that he was also seeing other girls while seeing me. As a result, I became pregnant, soon after the start of my junior year of high school. In the late 1970’s, teenage pregnancies were shunned upon by the public school system. Young mothers either dropped out of school or in efforts to remain in school, covered up their pregnancies. On top of it, the father of my unborn child’s parents were adamant that I have an abortion stating that without it their son nor I would have a successful future. They were not taking into consideration that I was three months pregnant by the time they found out. It was the most notable time in my life in which my mother put her foot down and absolutely opposed it. She expressed that she would do whatever she needed to help me complete school. I proceeded to go into a world of depression. My mother encouraged me to keep my head held high. However, completing that task was beyond difficult. During my private times, I remember crying that now my dreams of ever having a bright future were crushed. My hope was gone.
Having heard of a place called Florence Crittenton (Toledo, OH) which was designed specifically for teenage unwed mothers to continue their education, I transferred there in the early spring of my junior year. I still recall sitting outside the director’s office, the door opening and seeing my mother wiping tears from her eyes as the director came to me and stated that I had been admitted to attend school and would be living there also as a resident. Although there were a large number of teenage girls attending the school, there were only two other local girls living in residence as the other six beds were of girls from other surrounding cities and/or states.
It was at Florence Crittenton that my self-esteem began to flourish. The wounds of defeat and discouragement were starting to heal. I started to lift my head again. I enjoyed going to class and learning new things, particularly child birth and prenatal care. Florence Crittenton also provided a daycare for the mothers to continue their schooling so that they didn’t have that worry, when the baby was born. I still remember spending time talking with the director who also taught me how to knit an afghan (of which I still have to this day). Although I didn’t know just how exactly I was going to make life better for myself and my unborn child. I truly believed that I could make it somehow and knew that it had to begin with me! Four months later, I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful daughter. I left the hospital with a sense of renewal. I was stronger and set on becoming the adult I knew I could be. Throughout the years, I always believed that there were better possibilities available for me and my daughter! I came to realize that the scars of my past had continuously caused me to sabotage any intimate relationship that came my way. However, it wasn’t until I began to forgive that I was able to unleash the pinned up anger that I had kept concealed for so many years and find peace and true love.
Although my journey continues to be one that experiences a few detours and bumps in the road, I know without a doubt that my life has been divinely guided through Grace. My dark past prepared me for my life’s work. I do have a purpose! I now have a loving family of my own. I am a community servant and educational leader who is passionate about the addressing issues surrounding our most vulnerable girls. Today, following eleven years as a public school administrator, I am the Managing Director of the Family Impact Institute at Purdue University’s Center for Families.
I am forever grateful to Florence Crittenton for lifting me back up from a lost and broken spirit!
For it is was there that my belief in self began to soar!
By any set of measures, Suzanne is a successful young woman. In May 2013, she graduated from the University of Maryland and go to law school. She is the mother of a happy, healthy, smart daughter who was two when Suzanne graduated from high school. She is also, as she put it, “a product of PEARLS.”
Fifteen-years-old and pregnant, Suzanne was virtually led by the hand by the school nurse to her first Crittenton Services of Greater Washington’s PEARLS meeting. She had all but given up: “At one point,” she said, “I didn’t even want to finish school.” But in PEARLS, she found what she needed most. According to Suzanne, “from the moment I walked into the room and saw Ms. Deb, the PEARLS program leader, I felt a lot better. I didn’t feel she was judging me. The minute my favorite teachers found out that I was pregnant or that I had a child, their point of view completely changed. A lot of people thought I was just a failure. A lot of people said I wasn’t going to graduate from high school. With PEARLS, dropping out of school wasn’t an option for me. Ms. Deb said ‘no, you’re going to be in school.’ And so I said, ‘I can do it’ because I know I have the support system here.”
Beyond acceptance and encouragement, PEARLS provided information on growing a healthy baby, protecting oneself from future unwanted pregnancies, appropriately disciplining your child, forming healthy relationships, and managing stress. Moreover, Crittenton’s focus on goal setting was extremely important. “It was actually exciting. In PEARLS, they gave us a life planner.” And she still has it: “I looked at the planner and saw that I’ve achieved, or I’m on my way to achieving, a lot of the goals I set while I was in PEARLS. That got me a little bit emotional: looking back and saying wow, ‘I actually did it — not just graduating, but getting into college and maintaining good grades’.”
In sum, Suzanne says, “PEARLS made me stronger. It made me more mature. It made me more accepting of others and myself. It taught me that it’s okay to be able to stand up on my own two feet — to be the independent person that I’ve always tried to be, but still accept help.”
While I was at Fay A. Rotenberg people from Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Corps (RFKCAC) and The National Crittenton Foundation came to talk to us girls. They wanted to know what our dreams where and how we viewed ourselves. I looked at them like “hello do you know what girls you are talking to.” Then they started talking about a success plan. I laughed this off because of the mindset I was in. I didn’t think I would be successful let alone even be able to hold a job, graduate high school or even attend college with my record. To me, I was a troubled kid, who no one wanted to help. That soon changed after talking to some of the people from The National Crittenton Foundation. They got me thinking, they made me gain a little confidence.
I realized, yes with my background I messed up but I still had a shot. I can still make something out of myself and do what I thought was impossible. I figured by starting to take school seriously my success plan would come in handy for the future.
Filling out my success plan was very interesting. Knowing that I was able to be whatever I wanted, I wanted to do everything from save animals, adopt kids and even work in an office building. I worked on my success plan with my clinician and would have input from my advocate. I would often reflect back and think about how I have never thought before of what I wanted to be, what I would do for a job, or even attend college. Working on this gave me the motivation, dedication and goals.
I realized my first goal would be to graduate high school. Something I never thought in a million years I would ever accomplish. I completed that in 2013. That was a proud moment for me and it made me realize that I liked school and wanted to continue on with my education. I surprised myself, and my family, and that gave me the guidance to continue onto my second goal.
My second goal is attend college and obtain a degree in Communications and Social Work. With obtaining these two degrees, I will be able to help kids like me. I see myself working with troubled youth. I want to make a difference in their life like the staff did at Fay A. Rotenberg School. I hope to attain a job at a program like Rotenberg or even have the opportunity to work at Rotenberg. I have already had a conversation with the Director at the Fay A. Rotenberg School and she said she would hire me without a doubt. Hearing this boosted my confidence.
My third goal is to then get my masters degree in Psychology and be a registered clinician. I would like to work with children and their families. I hope to do this in the community where I live now. I admire the people who have stuck with me and have shown me there is another way. While I was filling out the success plan I never thought goals where possible, and here I am now with three major goals that I’ve set to complete in a 5- and 10-year plan.
All through treatment at Fay A. Rotenberg School, clinician, advocate even just a regular staff member, would ask us “Who do you admire the most?” “Who do you look up to?” I started thinking who was there for me when times where rough? Who could I cry to or get a good laugh from? So I have chosen three people who I admire and look up to the most. They are my brother, sister and my boyfriend. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.
My brother, who I look up to the most, is a positive role model and he is the only one so far to graduate from college with a degree. I want to follow in his footsteps. He has always had a vision for me to succeed and I want nothing more than to walk across the stage at a college graduation and look in the audience and mouth to him “I did it.”
My sister, who I admire a lot, is a single mom who is working so hard so her son can have a great life. She always puts people before herself and loves to give back. I hope to attain her attitude and dedication. She took me in after I left Rotenberg and made sure I was set with school, had new clothes and was already to start my first day of high school. She is my rock and I know that if anything were wrong she would always be there for me.
The last person I look up to is my boyfriend. He has been there through thick and thin. He always has that extra advice for me to go forward and stop looking back. He reassures me that your past is your past don’t dwell in that anymore, you have overcome a lot and there is only a positive future ahead. He keeps me focused and keeps me on track with school. He knows what I want the most and will attain it one day I just need to be patient. These are the three people I admire the most and respect the most. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.
I once heard a quote “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours” Les Brown. I came across this in high school and it really stuck with me because I believe it is true. I believe that since people at RFKCAC are helping me full fill my dreams I one day will be able to return the favor.
When Patricea became pregnant she and her family both knew she would need extra support that was not going to be feasible at home. She would not be able to continue her education in her current private school due to stipulations on pregnant girls in school.
After a visit to Florence Crittenton in Montana, Patricea decided this would be the place for her. With the services offered and the staff’s support, Patricea received excellent pre-natal care, improved her relationship with her family, and got back on track to finish her education. With the guidance and support from Catholic Social Services, she was also able to see her plans for adoption through, choosing a wonderful family from Helena for her son. When it was time for her son to be born, she was surrounded by her mom, Maria (Florence Crittenton’s Bonding and Attachment Therapist) and her son’s soon-to-be adoptive mother.
Patricea expected and hoped for this support from Florence Crittenton. What she says she didn’t expect, was how liberating it has been. “The staff has been there for me, not just as a young mom, but as a person.” After her son was born, Patricea returned to Florence Crittenton, where she continued to receive therapy and support as she recovered from delivery and dealt with the many emotions of an adoption. Shortly after the birth, Patricea turned 18 and was able to take her GED, something she says may have never happened had she not been here.
But our work has not stopped there. We are committed to helping her reach her goals. After turning 18, Patricea transitioned into our Pathways to Success program (PTS). She is now focusing on her education and career goals, which include pursuing her bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in graphic design. Patricea is enrolled in University of Montana-Helena for the fall semester, with the goal of eventually attending the Art Institute of Seattle.
Patricea plans to stay in the PTS program until she has completed her course work at UM-Helena. Although she is not parenting her son herself, we are still committed to helping her achieve her goals. An adoption does not mean she is not still a teen parent, with the same needs for support and guidance.
When asked about her time at Florence Crittenton and how she feels about the services she has received Patricea told us this, “I have had a chance to be the kid and the adult I have always wanted to be. I have been given the opportunity to be myself and the support to pursue my dreams.” For her son, Patricea wishes, “That he will be happy, healthy, and well taken care of. I hope that I will always be a part of his life in some way…I want to be Auntie Patricea! I have a lot in common with [his adoptive parents] them and I know he will have a great life.”
We are so proud of the strong, independent, and loving women Patricea is becoming. We are honored to be a part of her life, and give her and her son the opportunities to be the best people they can be!
YOLANDA, New York
Ms. Webster shares her thoughts here about what keeps her inspired to come to work every day and how the environment for children’s services has changed over 30+ years.
Self-awareness is key. We work to help the young people understand their goals, their value, their networks of support and to be clear about what they need and want. If we don’t take time to do the same for ourselves, we cannot serve them as well, we cannot get the resources we need and we will not achieve as much. Asking for what I need from my team and knowing my limits has given me a strong foundation and allowed me to sustain myself through the highs and the lows.
A team approach is our greatest tool – with youth & with each other. I work with the young ladies in MCFC to really build trust and take a team-approach in working together to help them change their lives and build their futures. It’s not a matter of telling young people what to do, but of partnering, and getting there together. The babies are part of the teams, and my MCFC staff is a big part of the team, too. Ms. Diggs is a wonderful leader and as we can be a healthy team, we see it modeling opportunities for teamwork with the young people and for them to use in their lives beyond Inwood House.
The growing focus on permanency is exciting. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in the Children’s’ Services work recently is ACS’ increased focused on helping the young people get back tot heir families or into permanent homes. I see the aggressive energy to help the young ladies as a positive not only for them and their babies but also for our entire communities. I’m excited about it.
Our young people’s wisdom and resilience teaches me all the time. There are some pretty horrible and very difficult things the young ladies we work with have overcome and have survived when we meet them. Even when their stories are not horrific, though, the emotional strength and wisdom and care that these young ladies bring to my life teaches me every day. It’s humbling. It inspires me to keep giving and working.
“I’ve been here a long time,” Ms. Webster says, “but no matter how long I work here there will always be young people who need our support, who teach us and improve our lives, and it brings me back each day, ready to make the most of the present.”
I got sent to detox. I also learned I was pregnant. I hit rock bottom as they say. I got sent to the Florence Crittenton Home for substance abuse treatment and I was there for 23 months. I tried hard to stay clean for my baby and I had many ups and downs. I gave birth to my son and more than anything I wanted to be a good mother.
When it came time for me to leave Crittenton there was no way I could be with any of my own family because of their addictions. So I was placed in a foster home in Eastern Kentucky. I passed my GED, I work full-time for a pizza shop and I’ll be starting at the community college to become a nurse. When I’m having a hard time I still look at the books I got when I was at Crittenton and as the books says I try to “bloom where you are planted.” I never thought I’d say this but the books really do help. I can’t express all that Crittenton did for me the home, the treatment, the staff. Without the time I spent there I wouldn’t be alive and neither would my son.
It takes hard work every day but I am turning my life around for me and for Gavin who is now two years old.
SUZY, North Carolina
At the age of 6 years old, I went to live with my mom’s aunt so I could go to school, but instead I became the help. I was emotionally and physically abused by the members of the house. I was sexually abused by the housemaid in exchange for food, breaks, and other privileges. I felt my parents would blame me for the abuse I was experiencing, so I never told anyone. After every abuse I would ask myself, who am I? My response was a girl who will be something in life, a girl who will make a difference in someone’s life! My strength and my joy in life is my ability to love people; this was something I had to hold on to.
Two months before my 15th birthday, I was sent to Charlotte, NC to live with my father who I didn’t know, in a new country, to learn a language I didn’t know anything about except from the songs I heard on the radio. I tried to make the best of my new life, even though I was far away from all the people I knew and loved.
My relationship with my father was not the greatest when I moved to the United States. A teenage girl and a father with whom she doesn’t have a relationship with, is a recipe for disaster! I was kicked out at the age of 17 and was forced to move in with my boyfriend. This didn’t stop me from graduating from High School. I had to prove to myself and everyone else, that I could do it. After we had two children, I was a stay-at-home mother. Then one day, my boyfriend was deported back to Africa. It was in that moment, I had to learn how to work, and do things for my children and myself.
After many hard life lessons and countless nights on the streets and in shelters, I made the decision to call the Department of Social Services and asked them to come get my two sons, Amram and Dianz. I didn’t want my children to be on the streets with me; they deserved so much better. After finding a home for them, the Department of Social Services took me to Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina. Florence Crittenton empowered me with the life tools and opportunities and I needed to get my boys back, and to provide a better life for them and the baby girl that I was pregnant with at the time. My children gave me the type of wings that an energy drink will never be able to give to anyone.
Now I am a mother of four children: Amram, Dianz, Trinity, and Samir. I am engaged to a great life partner, and he has the most amazing family. I love his family, they have really made me and my children feel like we are a part of the family. I have a great job as a collection agent. I love to think that I am the sweetest collector in America!
At 29 years old, I can almost answer the question “Who I Am”? I am a woman that will make a difference in the lives of women from America to Africa with my faith, my spirit, and my strength along with The National Crittenton Foundation and my BOLD sisters!
We have a long history as advocates for young women and girls
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