Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Keeping families together: Stepping Stones project

Your gift helped furnish this room
 for a family like Melanie and Bill's
Melanie and Bill are a young married couple with three beautiful children. But addiction, at one point, tore their family apart. Their family was separated when Melanie and Bill’s heroin addiction made the caretaking of their children too difficult. The parents lost custody and were estranged from their children. The judge presiding over their case sentenced them to an outpatient treatment program. Their road to recovery included a very structured and demanding program, but both showed much success. 

As Melanie’s recovery progressed, she was referred to a United Way funded project, Stepping Stones, and was given the opportunity to reunite with her children as she continued her treatment program. She and her children were provided safe and affordable housing through the Stepping Stones project. For nine months she learned parenting and employment skills as she continued her journey to recovery. While living there, one of her children became very ill. Melanie persevered and stayed focused, obtained a job and paid rent at the home despite the added stress. Last summer, she and Bill graduated from their outpatient programs and have since transitioned their entire family into affordable permanent housing.

CODA’s Stepping Stones project provides women and their children with safe and affordable housing as they complete their outpatient treatment programs. Women learn the skills they need to successfully manage their addictions, seek employment, and parent their children through this project. An on-site monitor assists with coordination and support to these women and their families as they rebuild their lives so they can move on through recovery to permanent housing.

Offering children a chance to reunify and live with their mothers when they transition from inpatient addictions treatment to outpatient treatment is crucial to a keeping a family together. The Department of Human Services determines when mothers are ready for reunification, and often refers mothers to Stepping Stones when they are trending ahead of their recovery timetable. There are very few programs in our region that provide safe places for families to reunite and promote success as parents undergo treatment. Stepping Stones is one of them.

Oregon has an above-national-average percentage of children who return home and are formally discharged from foster care. Last year, more than 64 percent of Oregon children living in foster care were reunited with their families. Washington County, where this project is located, showed a decrease in their foster care population and placement last year. This project makes a big different to these kids and their families in our community.

Safe and affordable housing is hard to come by in the four-county region, especially for individuals experiencing barriers from their past histories, lack of income and much more. Stepping Stones gives families a chance to break through those barriers and thrive.

When you donate your time, money and voice you help families like Melanie and Bill’s stay together and stay strong. Thank you for participating in our community and helping break down barriers for people who need it.

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