Monthly Archives: September 2013

Minutes away from the unimaginable

Guest post by a Florida mother of three daughters, ages 2, 3 and 5. This incident occurred when her youngest daughter was under the age of 1. 

Woman Kissing the Top of a Baby's HeadWe were minutes away from the unimaginable as we experienced the scariest moment as parents.

We were watching TV as our girls were sleeping safe and soundly in their beds, or so we thought. Around 11:15 p.m., my 12-month-old daughter let out two blood-curdling cries I NEVER want to hear again. I ran to her room, knowing something was not right.

I found her completely trapped under her bumpers, strangled by the ribbons that tie them in place. I tried to pick her up, but it was wound so tightly around her neck I couldn’t move her. I screamed for my husband to grab scissors quickly as I continued to try and free her. Seconds seemed like hours as I watched her gasping for air. Somehow I managed to completely rip the ribbons from the bumper so I could pick her up and untangle her.

I never really understood why it was recommended to remove bumpers from cribs, but NOW I DO! As my girls got older, I figured they were big enough and strong enough to turn their heads, move, etc. to escape.  I NEVER even thought about strangulation from the ties.

I am just thankful she was able to let out those two cries so we could help her in time. I spent all night thinking up the “what ifs” and checking on all my babies.

So please, if you have babies … remove your bumpers and give them some extra cuddles today!

Visit for more info about safe sleep. 

Leaps and Bounds

recoverypicRecovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness that emerges from hope and gratitude. This principle lays the foundation to DCF’s SAMH program office. DCF received the Access to Recovery (ATR) grant in 2010 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. This substance abuse treatment grant continues through September of 2014 and emphasizes client choice. The grant allows individuals to choose where they receive clinical treatment and recovery support services in the community among a network of community-based and faith-based providers.  Research has found that client choice in treatment is crucial to a successful recovery. 

Our clients put a real face on ATR:

I came to New Beginnings Women’s Program in April 2013 after I lost my job in January and became homeless. I have a long history of severe Depression and Bipolar Disorder. The devastation of my situation caused my depression to worsen severely and I was hospitalized.

The New Beginnings program has been a godsend to me and the ATR benefits I received allowed me to settle into the program the first month I was here. I wouldn’t have been able to pay for my housing, transportation or counseling had I not received assistance from Access to recovery.

I am extremely grateful to ATR and am now working for the church. My life is improving by leaps and bounds!

Thank you so very much!



When I entered the New Beginnings recovery program, I was homeless, broke, badly addicted to cocaine and fresh off a week-long binge. I had nothing but a small shopping bag with a t-shirt and pair of shorts in it. The last thing I was going to be able to do was find a job to pay for my program fees. ATR funding gave me an opportunity to be able to focus on getting clean and staying clean for my first couple months in the program. I’m not sure I would have made it otherwise. Now I have about 16-months clean and independent and have reconnected with my family. Thank you for the help! It was much needed, and much appreciated!



I am 59 years old; the second oldest in a family of four children. We are second- generation Ukrainian-Americans and our family did not have much addiction. I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church with a devoted family until I still resorted to alcohol and drugs for 20 years. ATR was a gift from God on my second month of recovery when I came to New Beginnings’ Women’s Program. ATR’s assistance took the pressure off me worrying about rent and finding a job right away in order to afford the program at NB Faith House.

The ability to jump start my recovery has been a huge gift! I hope and pray that more needy people will be able to benefit from the services provided by Access to Recovery. I am safe and secure in the women’s house I live in, which provides the needs necessary to get my life together.

I volunteer in the church office, which makes me feel like I’m giving back. I thank ATR and pray that you keep helping New Beginnings’ clients and many sick and needy people in the Tampa Bay area.

Sincerely with love,


Super Marta

 Guest post by Brent Hobbs, Adoptions Care Manager with Camelot Community Care in partnership with Eckerd Community Alternatives.

Marta and her friend

Marta and her friend

Marta was born a healthy child. When she was just 1 year old, she was involved in a horrific car accident. Her mother rode in a car with Marta on her lap and the little girl was ejected from the car leaving her brain damaged, blind, deaf and wheelchair bound. Doctors said she would require lifelong care. Her mother gave her custody to the State of Florida.

Marta came into care with Camelot Community Care in 2008. We searched and found a forever family in Nebraska who saw a picture of Marta and knew she belonged to them. Unfortunately, many people believe that when you have special needs like Marta, adoption is not a possibility. But, boy did Super Marta bust that myth!

I hear from Marta’s adoptive mother from time to time. Marta is now a first grader and a chatterbox. She talks the entire two blocks to school most mornings! Marta’s medical needs are still great, but with the love and caring from her forever family, the horizon looks promising. Marta has a stander and a walker, which she loves to stand in. Her mother also tells me she is starting to take some steps while in her walker, but only when she is in the mood – Marta does possess a certain stubborn streak.

The super exciting news is that Marta is not blind after all! She is extremely near-sighted and has astigmatism, but she can see! She has new pink glasses and actually gets upset when her para-professional at school takes them off to clean them. Can you imagine it? A life of darkness and now all of a sudden light and sight. I wouldn’t want those glasses to come off either! :)

Marta is special, in a superhero-type of way. A story like Marta is why we are in this profession. This story, and so many others like it, makes our hearts smile!

If you would like to learn more about becoming a medically needy foster parent in Florida, please visit For more information about adoption, visit

They’ll always have a place in each other’s lives

Lynda M. Costello, Attorney, 16th Judicial Circuit, Children’s Legal Services. 

From the time she was placed with them, the adoptive family made sure to keep her biological mother involved in her life. At all times they treated the mother with respect and compassion. Even at times when the mother had not been around or had not been doing well, the adoptive family made the child feel that her mother still loved her. This helped the young child adjust to changes in her life and maintain a positive perception of her mother, despite not being able to be with her.

The adoptive family also facilitated visitation between the child and the mother, as well as with half-siblings. They visited the mother while she was incarcerated and provided the mother with pictures, drawings and school work from the child. They also told her stories about the child – how she was a flower girl in a wedding, all about the first time she was on an airplane and how well she did in kindergarten.

The adoptive parents continually emphasized to both the child and the mother that they would always have a place in each other’s lives.

Help the kids – with just one click!

Guest post by Tania Santos, Community Giving and Communications Manager; and Norrine Russell, Grants Manager, at The Children’s Home Inc. in Tampa.

A cottage bedroom at The Children's Home.

A cottage bedroom at The Children’s Home.

When an abused child needs safety and love, when parents are at the end of their rope, when children are failing in school, when a mother dies and a grandmother takes in her six children, when parents need counseling to save their family, THE CHILDREN’S HOME provides hope, help and healing.

Now YOU have the power to help kids at The Children’s Home, like Danielle and Koby – with just one click through Aetna Voices of Health national competition.

Danielle and Koby’s Story

Danielle and Koby’s mother had her kids at a young age and wasn’t prepared to be a parent.  She had a long history with substance abuse which made it difficult for her to care for her children.  The children lived off and on with their mother in Florida and their grandparents in Michigan.

While in their mother’s care they were exposed to lots of drug use, physical abuse, domestic violence, and far too many sexual situations.  Danielle was also sexually abused while in the care of her mother and saw a family friend die from a drug overdose.  The young girl experienced physical abuse, being beaten and punched in the face, traumatized by her grandfather while residing with her grandparents.

A case plan was opened in July 2010 after reports from a teacher that Danielle and Koby witnessed domestic violence between their mother and her boyfriend.  They were removed from their mother’s care in December 2010.  As the mother already had an active case plan at the time of removal, termination of parental rights was pursued and granted in April 2011. The kids were 9 and 11 at that time.

The Children's Home grounds.

The Children’s Home grounds.

Danielle and Koby resided with family and many group homes before being placed together at The Children’s Home Inc. (CHI).  Upon being placed at CHI, placement was immediately sought with their step-grandmother, who was also back in Michigan. This was a long, tedious process that created a great deal of anxiety and frustration for the children. Their behaviors deteriorated as they struggled with the fear that they would never return home to Michigan.

Their strong relationships with The Children’s Home staff and therapists helped them through this extremely difficult period.  They received weekly individual therapy and had family therapy as well.  They remained for 14 months and were able to move back to Michigan to be with their step-grandmother in October 2012. The following summer,  Danielle and Koby, now 10 and 12, were adopted by their step-grandmother.  Because of the efforts of The Children’s Home, abused children experience safety, hope and healing every day.

The Children's Home playground.

The Children’s Home playground.

You can help abused children like Danielle and Koby today! VOTE for The Children’s Home in the Aetna Voices of Health national competition—and vote every day until October 13. The organization with the most votes gets $30,000, second place gets $20,000. This money would help children like Danielle and Koby have a safe place to heal, a warm bed and good food, and all the therapy they need to develop happiness and hope for the future.  The Children’s Home is one of 33 finalists in the country and competition is FIERCE—the kids won’t win without our help!

Vote for The Children’s Home … vote for healing … vote for hope for Florida’s kids.