Intact Family Services: Helping Parents Bring Their A-Game

Anyone who is a parent can identify with the stresses inherent with the role and that a network of support is essential to ease the intrinsic challenges of raising children. Two programs at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), Intact Family Services and Intact Family Recovery, provide vital support to parents who have few people to turn to at a crucial time when their children are at risk for abuse or neglect. The voluntary programs are important safety nets for vulnerable families, many grappling with challenges like domestic violence or trauma that are exacerbated by poverty and lack of basic needs, such as food and housing.

Part of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and administered by nonprofits like LSSI, the programs help families reported to DCFS for suspected abuse or neglect. Part of the program's success hinges on LSSI caseworkers building trust with families. "We strive to provide the same level of service we would want if the client were a member of our own family," said Intact Senior Supervisor Julie Hanson, LCSW.

Intact Family Services provides parents with needed support while looking out for the safety of children. Parents receive case management services and referrals to a variety of community-based resources, as well as guidance from individual caseworkers, all while keeping the family together, thus minimizing trauma for children. "I tell parents, 'We're going to get you on your A-game,'" said Rebecca Koeppen, MA, LPC, Child Welfare Specialist, Intact Family Services. "Our program helps families to be the best parents they can be."

Ashley Rule, an Intact client and mom to five, has benefited from Koeppen's support. With her husband working full time, Rule acknowledged the stress inherent in parenting. "Parenting is not easy," she said. "To have the support that Rebecca and Intact provide is amazing."

Intact Recovery Services provides similar support in households where infants have been exposed to drugs in utero or where abuse/neglect is suspected due to drug use.

"I am in awe of things parents are working toward to give their children a better life," said Kayla DuBois, MSW, Child Welfare Specialist, and Intact Recovery. "Some people are breaking generations of dysfunctional behaviors."

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