“It started with a pudgy 13-year-old young man walking through my front door with a big smile on his face. ‘Nice to meet you,’ he said politely and shook our hands as the case worker did some introductions. He was only coming for the weekend. We took him to an Admirals game, made pancakes the next morning, and spent the afternoon at a haunted house. We were only doing respite. As it turned out, he started spending every weekend with us. About a month into our weekly visits, we got a call from his case worker. She said he had a bad day at school and was taken to the mental health complex by the police with cuffs on his hands and feet and a mask on his face. Could he stay with us as they look for a new placement? We said, ‘Bring him home.’

“We thought everything would be fine. We have experience working with kids from challenging places. But it was a different story when those challenges started happening in our home. We knew very quickly after his arrival that we would need some help. That’s when we found some recorded training on the Coalition’s website. (This was before the Champion Classrooms opened.) We started taking trainings about trauma, the teenage brain, and attachment. With each training, we gained a little more understanding and information and felt a little more supported. We started approaching him differently when he would have big behaviors. We started reading Coalition tip sheets about building trusting relationships with children in your care. We started sharing the information we were learning with his school and built a successful partnership with the teachers. After a few years, we began to see him healing. We started to see him learn to trust. We began to see less and less of the big behaviors, and more and more of his wonderful self emerged.

“We now see an incredibly empathetic young man who can talk to others about their feelings and emotions. A person who can calm others when their inner storms start raging. He is two years out of high school and working hard to build a life for himself – a life free from the chaos of his childhood.

“Sometimes parents don’t know what they need until they find it. And we are so grateful that we found the Coalition for Children, Youth, and Families.”