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Impact Story: Lanie & Tara
*Names have been changed for client privacy.*

Children and families look to Casa de Esperanza to help break the cycle of child abuse and neglect. Through programs that provide safety, resources, relationships and hope, families are restored, and children have a chance at a better life.
Over the next few months, you'll read about one such family, Lanie and her daughter, Tara, who arrived at Casa de Esperanza in crisis and received residential, case management, and aftercare services.
Lanie and Tara came to Casa de Esperanza through a referral from another Houston program that works with mothers and children. At 18, Lanie aged out of foster care from a residential treatment setting. For years immediately following, she struggled to survive in the world by finding food and shelter wherever she could. Her mental health needs were an ongoing challenge, and she discovered she was pregnant almost immediately after being discharged from the foster care system. Eventually she made her way to the program for mothers and children. 

When Lanie and Tara were referred to Casa de Esperanza, Lanie was no longer functioning well within the program. She struggled with the rules and structure of the program because it reminded her too much of the restrictions she had growing up in foster care and residential treatment facilities. Lanie’s interactions with other women in the program were becoming more confrontational, and Lanie was asked to leave. If Casa de Esperanza couldn’t help, they would have to call Children’s Protective Services. Casa de Esperanza took 21-month-old Tara into care that same day. 

Lanie, who aged out of foster care herself, placed 21-month-old Tara at Casa de Esperanza when she had to leave a residential program for women and their children. 

On the day of her placement at Casa de Esperanza, Tara was picked up by her Hands of Hope House Parent, Jennifer. Tara was quiet and looked away whenever someone tried to talk to her. Jennifer transported Tara to the foster home in the Casa de Esperanza neighborhood. There, she offered Tara food, introduced her to everyone living in the home, showed Tara her room, and then gave Tara a bath before heading to the doctor. Tara was found to be in relatively good health, though she was slightly underweight, behind on some of her immunizations, and she had an infection in both ears.

Tara adjusted quickly to her foster home and new daily routine. She enjoyed playing with toys, playing outside and dancing to music. Developmental testing showed that Tara had delays in the areas of speech and fine motor skills. Referrals were made for speech therapy and occupational therapy. Most importantly, Casa de Esperanza helped her to feel safe and loved.

As Tara spent more time at Casa de Esperanza, her weight gain, speech and fine motor skills improved. Although Tara had some challenging behavior, Casa de Esperanza helped her manage her emotions by keeping her day structured and predictable. Her initial quietness had completely changed, and she was now a bold, active two-year-old with a big personality and plenty to say.  

Your support of Casa de Esperanza gives HOPE and a HOME to children like Tara. 
Over the past two months, we have been bringing you the story of Lanie and her daughter Tara, who found hope at Casa de Esperanza thanks to the support of the community and people like you. If you missed it, click here to catch up on their story.

The focus of Casa de Esperanza is, first and foremost, the safety of the children in our care. We are unique, however, in our ability to provide the intense casework services to birth families while their children are in placement.

Tara's mother, Lanie, came to Casa de Esperanza with many needs. Once Tara was safely living in the Casa de Esperanza Neighborhood, Lanie could begin to focus on herself. The casework department developed a Plan of Service to help Lanie obtain the skills and services she would need to successfully parent and live with Tara in the future.

The first priority was to address Lanie’s mental health needs and help her access medical care. Lanie also needed resources to assist her with food and housing. Casa de Esperanza provided Lanie with transportation assistance to get her to her appointments, helped her pick up her prescribed medications, and assisted her as she navigated the often-complicated systems housing the resources available to her. Lanie received help with completing her application paperwork for Social Security Income, TANF (commonly referred to as Food Stamps) and a housing program she qualified for because she had aged out of foster care. At the same time, Lanie was asked to complete parenting classes and comply with random drug screens.

Because of the lack of appropriate parenting she experienced as a child, Lanie struggled with parenting herself - not in her desire to be a parent, but in knowing how to do so. She was also leery of anyone with the title of caseworker or social worker and equally distrustful of any agency or system. Lanie and Tara's Casa de Esperanza caseworkers worked together to build trust with Lanie. Through visits with Tara and post-visit discussions with her caseworker, Lanie grew more comfortable in her role as a parent. Over time Lanie became less defensive and more willing to work toward reaching the goals on her Plan of Service and reuniting with Tara.
11 months after Lanie placed Tara at Casa de Esperanza, Lanie and Tara were ready to live together as a family again. Lanie had her own apartment through a housing program that assists young adult who aged out of foster care. She continued to maintain her mental health and completed all of her services. Tara had grown and developed and was at a healthy weight for her age. Tara successfully completed her occupational therapy goals, and her speech services were transferred so she continued to receive services in her home with her mother.

Lanie and Tara continue to do well and stay connected to Casa de Esperanza through our Aftercare program. Tara’s caregivers miss her but know that the love and care they gave her allowed a family to stay together. Lanie knows that help or a listening ear are only a phone call away. Through the generous support of the Houston community and our donors, Casa de Esperanza was able to step in and successfully stabilize and reunite the family, and better prepare them for their life ahead. Lanie, who was once so hesitant to trust, has since referred a friend of hers to Casa de Esperanza for help. It is one of the greatest complements we can receive from our clients.