CCFY’s Parent Peer Support Program grew out of ongoing dialogue between CCFY’s parents and the NYC Department of Probation (DOP) staff on ways to improve family engagement in the juvenile justice system. Responding to the needs expressed by family members, the DOP contracted CCFY to provide Parent Peer Coaching for the Bronx Family Court, and also issued contracts for similar services in the other boroughs of New York. The Parent Peer Coaching model is already demonstrating increased family engagement in NYC, and should also have an impact on reducing violations of Probation, especially those related to parental complaints about youth behavior. Isaliz’ story demonstrates the impact of this program. Meet Isaliz:
Isaliz is a mother of two who arrived from Puerto Rico in January 2013. She was transferred from Puerto Rico to a domestic violence shelter in Queens and brought her son with her, who was then 14 years old. She left her younger daughter with family with the intentions of sending for her when she felt stable and secure in her new environment. She heard many stories about things that happen in shelters and didn’t want to take any risks that something would happen to her daughter. However, her son didn’t want to leave P.R. so he became angry and rebellious. He experienced bullying in his new school and began to be disrespectful to his mother. Isaliz says he was never a disrespectful child, but he became uncontrollable, so she called her local precinct for guidance.
The police officer gave Isaliz a referral to CCFY, where she met CCFY’s Family and Community Organizer, Jeanette Bocanegra. Isaliz speaks with great appreciation of the day she met Jeanette. She received an orientation on CCFY’s programs and services and began to attend parent workshops. In addition, Jeanette met with her son and got him involved with one of CCFY’s South Bronx Community Connections (SBCC) sites. He did well for a while and when he would start to act out Isaliz would call Jeanette who would call her son and keep him involved in CCFY’s programs.
Isaliz began attending parenting workshops and says that they made her reflect on what she did as a youth. They helped her to open her mind and realize that her son was not doing anything compared to what she did. She learned that the root of young people’s problems usually come from the home. The workshops taught her how to give love to her children. She admits that she didn’t know how to give what she had never received. In the program she received love and referrals for services she needed. She began to empathize with her son and to communicate differently with him. When her daughter was reunited with them, she was able to help her daughter who arrived with emotional issues. Her daughter started attending public school and began to act out, so much so, that the teacher gave Isaliz a referral to the Bronx Family Court program, Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS). Isaliz showed the referral to Jeanette who immediately advised her against it and informed her that PINS is a first step into the juvenile justice system. Her daughter also got involved in the program and today, her daughter and son attend family workshops at CCFY.
Thanks to CCFY, Isaliz’ says her son is now 16 years old and he has never been processed through the juvenile justice system. She understands now that calling the precinct could have been a mistake if she was not referred to CCFY. She met other parents who called the police on their children and regret it today. Isaliz says that her son is calm and is doing very well in school and her daughter is very involved in CCFY.
The support she receives helps her to give to others. Isaliz goes to Bronx Family Court one day a week to help families with the same issues she experienced. She believes that one must be professional but sharing one’s experience helps create trust and break barriers that allow other parents to receive assistance. She says most of all it gives them hope, that if you succeeded they can too.
Isaliz hopes to continue to help other parents, to share her story, and to give them the hope that they can succeed. She knows it takes time, but she encourages other parents to commit to and benefit from the family workshops and receive the support she has experienced at CCFY.
In addition to supporting parent services, your donation helps CCFY provide stipends to parents like Isaliz who volunteer their time to give back to their communities!