With a meth addiction standing in the way of her raising her five children, Samantha Davis didn’t know what to do until she received a visit that changed the course of her future.
Her introduction to Jessica Olson, the clinical supervisor of Family Education and Support Services’ Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP), was the first step toward getting one of her children back from foster care and ultimately affording Davis the opportunity of securing her own residence.
About a month later, Davis also came into contact with her new PCAP case manager, Kassie Trotter, who made her aware of several services she would need to get on the right path, along with helping her move to a new shelter that would accommodate all of her children.
Trotter, said Davis, not only advised her on what to do, but also helped her pack her belongings in the back of her car inside of 20 minutes Davis was allotted to move out from her facility.
“Kassie would take me to all of my services. She really listened. She was the kind of person who didn’t judge me,” recalled a currently pregnant Davis, who has since relocated to an apartment of her own in Centralia along with four of her five children — and the new addition about 100 or so days away.
Davis is one of several former meth, opioid and alcohol users who have benefitted from Family Education and Support Services — a Tumwater-based nonprofit — and specifically from the PCAP program, which reaches out to mothers and fathers battling addiction by providing home visitation and intervention for three years through its team of trained and supervised case managers.
What’s more, the Tumwater office is stocked with clothing, food, diapers and other items that are available to all clients free of charge.
“It’s been an ongoing study,” said Olson. “All of our results show that moms are more likely to finish treatment; more likely to be employed at exit; more likely to be in stable housing.”
And while PCAP is currently accessible in nine counties throughout Washington State, the Tumwater office’s area of coverage consists of Lewis, Mason and Thurston counties, where a total of 114 patients are presently receiving assistance.
The PCAP model was developed under the mentorship of Dr. Ann Streissguth at the University of Washington Fetal Drug and Alcohol Unit in 1991. In examining the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure, it was the doctor’s contention that the mothers themselves were often abused, neglected and deprived children a decade or two prior.
The latest numbers show that PCAP is meeting their goals in helping mothers build and maintain healthy lives. These statistics include the following outcomes:
92 percent of clients have completed alcohol, drug treatment programs;
44 percent had at least one period of abstinence
65 percent were using family planning methods
83 percent were living with their own families
92 percent were receiving well-child care
68 percent were in permanent, stable housing
“I think one of the differences is we don’t refer to refer. We walk people through the resources,” said Executive Director of Family Education Support Services Shelly Willis. “The case workers will drive them to an in-patient (facility). We’ll pick them up when they get out. We’ll take them to apply for housing. It’s not just saying, ‘You need to call this number.’ It’s walking them through.”
In Davis’ case, her reversal of fortune has been a relatively quick and smooth process, according to Trotter, who cited the 32-year-old’s sense of initiative in graduating from Family Recovery Court and completing a number of PCP courses, including being an active member of the program’s OURR (Opioid Use Reduction and Recovery) Alliance and Employment services.
“In the City of Centralia, in particular, Sam has been able to connect to a lot of resources and then has (asked) a lot of us to partner together to support her, which I think is why she’s been even more successful,” added Trotter.
Davis’ determination to put her past in the life’s rearview mirror will result in an early graduation form PCAP next summer, while she’ll also be pursuing a college education and ultimately gaining employment as a PCAP worker.
Davis became reflective when she was asked to comment on the rapid series of changes she’s experienced since she decided to stop succumbing to the temptation of substance abuse.
“It was 407 days ago, I decided to leave everything that was familiar and recovered from a C-section from the backseat of my car. I was alone, I missed my children and I was just lost inside. Today, I wake up and I’m not lost. I have this ridiculous joy in my life and nobody is going to take it from me.”
On that note, Davis — a Grays Harbor County native — is now dead set on identifying people who are undergoing the same trauma she lived through in the interest of navigating them to a better life.
“You should never be afraid to reach out for help because you never know whose hand is going to grab a hold of you. Sometimes, we as people get in this hole and sometimes someone just needs to throw you a rope,” she observed. “Someone needs to have all of those things that were piled on top of you right there and just pull you out, take you out for coffee and love you until you can go back and start moving those things one by one.”
If Davis is successful in making good on her designs of becoming a PCAP employee, she’ll be following in the footsteps of a current staffer and former program client, Natalya Kinder, who now serves as Family Education and Support Services’ Parent 4 Parent Program Director.
It was only seven years ago that Kinder was fighting chemical dependency while in an abusive relationship. She recalled the anguish she endured in seeing three of her five children go through the foster care system while she began her own road to recovery under PCAP’s guidance.
Kinder shared: “So, what my program provides for the families is when that mom sits alone in the courtroom broken-hearted and with her children ripped out of her arms … I will be there, my team is there to tell them, ‘I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there.’ It is possible to come out on the other side — I’m proof of that.”