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Champions of Hope

Children in Placement

Article by Samantha Schoengold Beranbom

Photography by Abby Cole Photography

Originally published in Fairfield Lifestyle

In a world where childhood should be synonymous with innocence, joy and lightheartedness, the harsh reality is that countless children live in dangerous circumstances - including in our own community. Thankfully, there are organizations that are dedicated to providing a lifeline to those who need it most. Children in Placement is a statewide nonprofit organization. They are a beacon of hope and a steadfast ally for the most vulnerable among us. CIP's mission goes far beyond immediate intervention to ensure that these children have a healing recovery in a safe, permanent home, creating the space for a happy and fulfilling future.

The dedicated, compassionate individuals who make it all possible are at the heart of Children in Placement's success. From tireless staff members who navigate the complexities of the child welfare system to the visionary Board of Directors who guide the organization's mission, each person in the CIP family is driven by an unshakable commitment to the protection and potential of every child. The organization's backbone is the incredible volunteer advocates, Guardian ad Litem (GAL). These trained volunteers are a critical part of the team. Their focus is to be there every step of the way, supporting and safeguarding each case to secure that every child's rights and best interests are upheld throughout the legal process. They become the reliable companions, advocates, and friends these kids so desperately need.

To truly comprehend the impact and effectiveness of CIP's extraordinary work, it's the personal stories and feedback that families have shared. Guardian ad Litem Program clients Isabelle and Kenan share their compelling account, "After our daughter tragically passed away, Children in Placement worked tirelessly to ensure that my grandson was permanently placed in our home. We are so grateful for their guidance and support during such a difficult time in our lives." These are stories of hope, resilience and recovery. And it is only a glimpse into the significant difference Children In Placement's thoughtful expertise has on the lives of these children and families.

Larissa and her four younger siblings were removed from their home when she was just 13 years old. They were living in squalor and were not attending school. Sadly, their mom's partner was arrested for domestic violence, which all five children witnessed. On top of the trauma that comes from losing a home, a routine, parents, and friends, Larissa couldn't help but think that their situation was partly her fault. As a result, she became depressed and withdrawn.

Larissa and her siblings were placed in a temporary foster home and assigned a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) advocate through Children in Placement. The GAL established a trusting relationship with all the children, identified the children's education and therapy needs, and worked to help DCF secure permanent placement. In addition, the court mandated steps that their mom needed to follow in order to be reunified with her children. Sadly, their mom struggled to leave her partner for some time.

A great-aunt was soon identified, but she had health ailments that would limit her ability to care for the younger siblings long-term. It took two years, but their mom did meet her court requirements, including parting ways with her abusive partner. The younger siblings were reunited with their mom; however, Larissa asked the GAL if she could remain with her aunt. She was thriving in her current school - she made the Honor Roll and joined the Marching Band. The judge granted permanent custody to her aunt, with a visitation schedule with her mom.

Larissa was so grateful for her GAL, who not only helped her find a place where she felt safe, but also became the role model she needed.

Twins, Carlos & Jose were moved from their home and placed in state custody after they were found wandering the streets one afternoon. It was determined that their young mom was unable to provide for her boys. 

Given that the boys had no feasible kinship options due to most of their family living in Guatemala, their Guardian ad Litem (GAL) recommended they be placed in foster care until they could find a forever family through adoption. 

The GAL also aided in getting the boys the services they needed to help them developmentally, including speaking English. Just six months after being in foster care, the twins were adopted by a loving family who had always dreamed of having twin boys.

Children in Placement is a testament to what a community can achieve when it comes together for the well-being of its youngest members. As we highlight CIP's remarkable achievements, we must also recognize that there is still work to be done. Executive Director Janet Freimuth is at the forefront of this call to action, "Community support is the cornerstone of hope for Connecticut's child victims. Together, we can provide them with the brighter, more promising futures they deserve. Every ounce of support counts, and it's our collective commitment that can change the trajectory of their lives." When a community stands up as the voice for the voiceless, the power to secure that hopeful path forward is unstoppable. Through volunteering, donating or advocating, we can ensure that no child in Connecticut is left behind. 

childreninplacement.org @childreninplacement

Names, ages, and other identifying factors have been changed to protect the confidentiality and identity of the children involved.

"Community support is the cornerstone of hope for Connecticut's child victims. Together, we can provide them with the brighter, more promising futures they deserve. Every ounce of support counts, and it's our collective commitment that can change the trajectory of their lives."

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