Domestic violence. Drugs. Alcohol. Psychological and physical trauma.
The cycle is tough to break but when that wheel bends, lives change.
One young mum shares her story to share hope with others like her, to prove that changing your life can be done - even if the battle is one not easily won.
In the New England district, there were 132 children and young people in out of home care from 2018 to 2019, according to statistics collated from the Department of Communities and Justice.
Another 124 were on a guardianship order. Jessica wants that to change.
Jessica, whose name has been changed, had barely hit 18 when she had Jack, her first child.
Not quite 12 months later she had a little girl, Poppy. She experienced severe domestic violence.
With no confidence to speak of coupled with profound physical and psychological trauma, she fell into the cycle.
She became no longer fit to care for her pigeon pair.
She now has her children back after intensive effort to change her life, deciding to take up an offer to participate in the Family Preservation Program (FPP).
Building a relationship with her FPP case worker, she was supported intensively.
Her case worker linked her with a family friend so she was no longer homeless.
She then connected with local crisis accommodation providers and the Rent Choice Youth program, which provides private rental assistance. She secured a home.
She set personal goals with the help of her case worker, and saw the women's health nurse to address some long-overdue health concerns.
Jessica attended regular drug and alcohol counselling and participated concurrently in a Nurturing, Resilience and Growth program. She reduced then eliminating drugs form her life.
Career was next, so she began upskilling for work and was assisted by Joblink Plus.
She was not only successful in obtaining a job, but is now studying a certificate III in Aged Care at Community College.
And then that ever-present hope finally came to life before her eyes. Her children were able to be returned to her care, full-time.
Jessica's personal story is just one of thousands benefiting from the evidence-based family preservation program aimed at keeping families together.
In the hope of encouraging more to take that decision to change their lives, Child Protection Week starts today and runs until September 12 with the theme "putting children first."
NSW Families, Communities and Disability Services minister Gareth Ward says their investment in evidence-based programs focusing on early intervention have "significantly reduced the number of children in out-of-home care."
However, when it's not safe for a child to remain with their parents, the department say they remain committed to finding a permanent, loving home through guardianship or adoption.
- For domestic violence support call 1800RESPECT
Original story featured in Northern Daily Leader 6th September 2020. Written by Jacinta Dickins