A Healing Process
Coping with mental illness can take a serious toll on even the strongest family. For those living in poverty, obtaining medication and consistently attending therapy can be very difficult. Nearly a quarter of CFR’s families face a mental health diagnosis, putting their children at increased risk of being placed in foster care. But stability and reunification are achievable for families with mental illness and CFR ensures that these families have the best chances for success.
The Right Diagnosis
CFR’s legal and social work staff are highly trained to understand common mental health diagnoses. Some parents face conditions like depression or anxiety and may use substances to self-medicate. These can be exacerbated by the stress of having their children removed. ACS often requests that “sad” or “angry” parents undergo mental health evaluations which frequently lead to a diagnosis. ACS then adds further requirements to service plans, which can hinder speedy reunification. CFR teams work closely with mental health professionals to get correct diagnoses and proper treatment plans.
Treatment & Healing
Once the diagnosis is determined, CFR teams work to help the parent obtain insurance so they can access appropriate services. Like many obstacles our clients face, mental health disorders are often multi-faceted and exacerbated by other difficulties, such as substance abuse and homelessness. CFR teams build trusting relationships with clients to ensure they follow through with therapy, as well as helping them obtain drug treatment, housing, and other stabilizing services.
Our attorneys are trained to obtain testimony both from mentally ill clients and mental health professionals, helping the judge to make the most informed decisions possible about the ability of parents to care for their children. When the professional is satisfied that the parent is stable, the CFR team strongly advocates for children to return home quickly.
Families facing serious mental illnesses may be able to stabilize with consistent medication and services, but for some, living together may not be an option. If this is the case, we work to prevent children from growing up in foster care by finding the best placement with relatives or close friends, allowing them to continue a relationship with their parents as they work to achieve stability and reunification.