Safe Families for Children Central Illinois

The Power of Having Someone’s Back

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold around the world, millions of people struggled with lockdowns, unemployment and social distancing. But for one vulnerable group, it hit especially hard: people in recovery already struggling to maintain their sobriety.

This was the case for a young family in central Illinois, where the kids were first hosted in a Safe Families home for about a month in late 2019.

Once their dad completed a treatment program and had gotten a job, and their mom was released from prison and living with them again, things were looking up.

Then COVID struck, and life began to unravel again.

Relapses are common throughout the recovery process for many, with some experts believing this number to be as high as 90% who have at least one relapse.1 Throw in a global pandemic, social isolation and a job loss, and it can serve as the recipe for disaster.

Soon the power of addiction began to weave its ugly path again. During the summer of 2020 the kids, now 5-, 11-, and 14-years old, were often forced to fend for themselves, with both parents caught in the snares of gambling late at night and doing drugs.

At age 14, Brianna* recognized that being left alone in charge of her young siblings all day, without air conditioning in a hot Midwestern summer, wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

So who did she call to rescue her? Her former Safe Families host mom, and this began another hosting situation.

According to Central Illinois Regional Director Jessica Kober, “If it weren’t for Safe Families, they were likely to be split up into multiple foster families.” Instead, Brianna’s dad was able to enter an intense in-person treatment recovery program, and the girls have started remote learning at school. The parents now have also moved up to some visits.

Jessica notes that the key to success has been support the host family has gotten. “To see parents, agencies, and everyone involved rally around to keep the children with the host family — despite the unknown circumstances and timeline — has been an encouragement to all of those involved,” she adds.

But the greater blessing besides the physical stability? Help with the honest, deep questions of life we’ve all asked at some point. Through a great relationship with her host parents, Brianna is learning about faith (and processing her own doubts and abandonment issues), and even wrestling with a true biggie: If God is who he says He is, why do hard things keep happening?

More importantly, Brianna has begun to see that even when we don’t see how it’s all working, someone still has her back. And that knowledge? It might just be enough to overcome the greatest struggles in life, global pandemic and all.

* Name changed for this story.