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A New Normal: Jesse and Krystal’s StoryPosted Date: 06/16/2017
By: Keith Metz, DCFS Communications Specialist
This is the second in our series of reunification success stories during National Reunification Month, shared by Carlos Torres in Crawford County. While last week’s story featured a single mother fighting against her own demons to achieve reunification with her daughter, this story centers on one family’s efforts to focus on the children and find a new “normal.” This is Jesse and Krystal’s story.
Jesse and Krystal’s family is like a lot of families. They love their two children – son Bryer and daughter Kaydance – but couldn’t get along as husband as wife, so they divorced and created new lives for themselves and the children. Krystal had primary custody, but both she and Jesse knew that the children needed both parents involved in their lives, so they agreed upon ample visitation.
In early 2016, however, the family experienced issues that resulted in the children coming into foster care to ensure their safety. The agency knew it needed to move quickly to develop a plan that would return the children to their family, and Carlos Torres was assigned as their Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworker.
After spending time with the family and assessing each parent’s strengths and needs, he realized that everyone loved the children very much but needed to learn new ways to interact and effectively and safely parent the children. Both sets of parents began actively participating in reunification services such as parenting without violence classes and individual counseling. The children also began attending their own counseling sessions.
Carlos and the entire Crawford County DCFS team consistently communicated with both parents and their therapists, and by May 2016, the team decided that the children should be placed with Jesse and his family while continuing to be in foster care and receiving reunification services. One of those services was supervised visits in Krystal’s home to ensure the children’s safety.
DCFS Program Assistant Candace Gregory supervised those visits. Candace remembers these visits fondly, but acknowledged “it was a bit bumpy at first as they adjusted to having a stranger in their home.” Krystal and her husband consistently implemented the skills they had learned in parenting classes. “It was just amazing to watch them grow as a family again,” Candace said.
Krystal said Candace “helped me more than anyone else…she helped us grow with advice and kind words of encouragement. We consider both Candace and Carlos as friends still.” Jesse echoed those words, noting that Carlos and the team were all great to work with during a stressful time. The children thrived living with their father Jesse but quickly realized that they were going to be safe and secure in both homes, and both sets of parents began to trust each other again.
Jesse and Krystal and the whole family began family counseling sessions to further support the big changes the family was undergoing. By August 2016, a judge gave Jesse full custody of the children, and Jesse and Krystal worked together to agree on frequent visitation. But the case remained open and the supervised visits with Krystal and her husband continued as the family adjusted to their new circumstances. Candace recalled one of these visits with great pride.
“Krystal was pregnant at the time,” Candace noted, “and Carlos asked me if I would bring the kids to an ultrasound appointment to see their little sister. It was such a blessing to see the kids’ faces when they saw their sister for the first time on the ultrasound. That moment, I realized how important the work is that we do for our families.”
By October 2016, the entire team – and the children – agreed that the family was ready for unsupervised visits, and in December 2016 the court allowed Carlos to close the case.
It’s now June 2017, and things continue to go well for the children and for Jesse and Krystal. Bryer is now 9 years old, Kaydance is 11 years old, and their new baby sister Micha has everyone wrapped around her finger. Jesse commented that “the kids love being kids – playing outside, camping, fishing…just like every other kid.”
Jesse and Krystal’s families live their own lives and enjoy their time with the children in their own ways, but they remain committed to working together for the overall good of the children. Carlos, Candace and the whole Crawford County team are very proud of the family and of the work they all put in to create a new “normal” and we’re happy to share their success story.