Written by Elizabeth Badgley, FOCUS for Mothers Graduate
"I first came to FOCUS for Mothers because I was working towards my reunification goal on my CPS case plan. When I first received my services in March of 2018, I was overwhelmed. I was homeless and living in the woods behind the Marshall Grain building. Later, I went to a shelter, but it wasn't much better. I had no idea how the process worked and I had little hope. I started working services but relapsed shortly after starting. I was ashamed to admit that I needed help, so I ghosted on my visitation and my caseworker. I was in a very dark place. Things started to change for me when I found out that I was pregnant in August of 2017. To my surprise, Matt from Safe Babies* reached out to me the following October. I was just honest with him and told him that I had relapsed , which caused me to skip out on the program. Without hesitation, I was offered a second chance at my service plan. I knew I had to work my service plan if I had any hope of keeping my new baby.
I started FOCUS for Mothers with NewDay Services in October of 2018 and the only thing I regret most was not starting it sooner. Immediately, I felt welcomed. Most importantly, I was given a plan that laid out the court system. This plan gave me a better understanding of the system. I truly believe that If I would have started these classes sooner I probably wouldn’t have relapsed. One thing I learned in FOCUS for Mothers was that none of the ladies in the class were bad mothers. This helped me move past some of the shame I was holding on to. Thanks to Safe Babies and New Day Services, I continue to maintain a relationship with my daughter’s foster family.
The Circle of Control was the best thing I ever learned. It sounds so simple, but FOCUS helped us put it into practice, and I still use those skills to this day. FOCUS for Mothers also hooked me up with some really great services. For example, flyers for the Ladder Alliance Basic Computer Skills Training Class were handed out in class. I’m sure you guys think nobody ever reads those handouts, but I enrolled in that program after I graduated FOCUS and won a computer by completing the class with honors.
I had my son in May of 2019. I had completed all of my other services, so I decided to put that computer to use and enroll in Online classes through Tarrant County College. I continued working my way through the court system. Through the mess of having a newborn, completing college classes online, stressful court dates, and CPS visitation I remembered that Circle of Control. I earned an invitation to the Beta Chi Zeta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK). I served as the public relations officer of my chapter during the fall of 2019. I was awarded full custody and they closed my CPS case on the same day I was inducted into PTK. I now serve as the Chapter President. I have come leaps and bounds since completing my FOCUS classes. I am now a thriving student leader. I am nearing completion of my associate's degree. I will be transferring to UTA next fall where I will pursue a BSW with Minor in Substance Abuse Counseling. My ultimate goal is to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I want to help women who struggle with issues like trauma and substance abuse.
If there is anything that the other ladies working through this process should know, it’s that they can re-write their narrative, too. Focus for Mothers can be just a stepping stone to a new life if they are willing to put the work in."
Elizabeth is a second chance-taker. Are you?
* Safe Babies, a First 3 Years initiative, seeks to lessen the long-term impact of neglect, increase the likelihood of reunification, and ensure policies that guide the movement of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system are developmentally informed in Tarrant and Dallas Counties.
For more information: https://first3yearstx.org/safebabies/