Elizabeth treasures the bond she’s developed with her son, 3-year-old Connor. “He’s my motivation for everything,” the young mom admits. But the relationship needed assistance to nurture and grow. “If I hadn’t received help from Children’s Home + Aid’s Stronger Beginnings for Families program, I don’t know where I’d be today,” she acknowledges.

Recovering from an addiction to opioids, Elizabeth is now 15 months sober. “It began innocently,” she recalls, “then spiraled out of control.” A post-surgical pain pill prescription led to one refill…then another…and another. “I was taking my prescription medication as prescribed by my doctor, so I didn’t feel I had a problem,” she reflects. Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth and her husband have moved on from pain medication to heroin. “Eventually we lost our jobs, our cars, our house,” says Elizabeth. Her wakeup call came after an incident in a Walmart bathroom, where she overdosed and nearly died. But it’s what happened next that changed her forever. “DCFS became involved because I had endangered my child,” she reveals. “Connor had been with me at the time.” The risk of losing her son was too great, and she accepted help at an inpatient rehab facility. From there, Elizabeth was connected to Children’s Home + Aid and the Stronger Beginnings for Families program.

The Stronger Beginnings for Families home visiting program supports expectant parents with children up to 36 months old. Providing help with community resources; activities to nurture relationships; education on nutrition, health and safety, child growth and development; and personal visits from a Home Visitor, Stronger Beginnings for Families strengthens families and sets up parents and their kids for future success. Elizabeth credits the program and her Home Visitor, Alyssa Buske, with helping get her life back on track and rebuilding her relationship with her son.

Elizabeth, Connor, Alyssa Buske, Home Visitor; and Renae Storey, Children’s Home + Aid Southern Region Vice President

“Elizabeth and her husband have worked hard to become the parents their son deserves,” offers Alyssa. “A year ago, even planning a family dinner was a struggle. Now she sets long-term goals and works hard to accomplish them. She is truly an inspiration.”

Before Stronger Beginnings for Families, just getting out of bed was a challenge for Elizabeth. Now she and Connor play with toys, work on crafts and spend time at the park. “My son is so much happier now. And I’m doing what I should be as a mother,” she remarks. Things between Elizabeth and her husband have improved as well. “Our relationship is a lot better, and his focus is on our family – not drugs,” she observes. “Right now, we’re already looking forward to Christmas. We’ll have money for gifts – something we didn’t in previous years,” she shares.

“Children’s Home + Aid helped me maintain my sobriety. I’m not sure where I’d be today without them. I realize now how much my son needs me, and I want to be there for him,” Elizabeth notes.