Home to Stay Spotlight

family with child riding bike

Reunification Month: Home to Stay Program Spotlight

June is national reunification month so we wanted to share about Peace River Center’s reunification program, Home to Stay.

In 2010 Heartland for Children and Peace River Center collaborated to create Home to Stay, a needs-based, trauma-informed program to provide in-home support for families during reunification and beyond. Home to Stay focuses on overall family needs, not just parenting skills. Emphasizing the family’s strengths, Home to Stay staff assists the family in their transition into being a complete, healthy, and happy family by working with them on a wide range of competencies including:

  • parenting skills
  • life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and budgeting
  • communication skills
  • substance abuse and domestic violence education

Home to Stay also advocates for families by accompanying them to court. Learn more about the program.

Behind the Scenes Look: Home to Stay from Our Staff’s Perspective

To get an inside peek at the program, we asked some of our Home to Stay staff members to share a little bit about themselves and their thoughts on the program. Have a question we didn’t answer? Email us!

Q: What do you wish more people knew about your program and the work you do?

Qushawna: I wish people knew how much we are invested into the families, and how hard we work to ensure that they have strong parenting skills to continue to be successful after case closure.

Nicolai: I wish people knew more about the circumstances of the families we work with and the reality of their stories. These are people who have, in most cases, made a mistake and lost a lot, but most importantly–they’ve lost their children. They have worked incredibly hard to change and get to the point at which our program becomes involved. Nearly all of the parents I work with carry shame, guilt and awareness they are stigmatized because of their circumstances. Thus, it is my hope to shed some light on the stigma in an effort to change how people see these families.

Drew: Home to Stay is not DCF and it’s not a parenting program. We work alongside families who have experienced the trauma of separation. We meet parents where they are, focusing on the family’s strengths and working with them on a wide range of life skills. The ultimate goal is transitioning them back into a whole and happy family.

Q: What do you enjoy most your job?

Nicolai: I most enjoy supporting the families through the reunification process. Being a resource and aiding the families immediately after a reunification has occurred is an incredibly special experience.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Nicolai: The most challenging part of our job is to gain the trust of the families. They perceive us as an extension of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), which can cause them to be cautious in being willing to partner with us.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Nicolai: The most rewarding part of my job is being able to empower the families for a better future.

Q: We know in any social services and “helper” field, self-care is essential to prevent burnout. What are your go-to self-care methods?

Nicolai: Spending time with my family (my daughter has taught me more about happiness than I can remember), reading, occasional exercise and video games (if I ever find the time).

Q: What is your background and education?

Nicolai: I’ve been with PRC for four a half years. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a Psychology degree. I’m working on my master’s degree in social work through Simmons College).