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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Family Support Services Program in Lowell Restores Families and Helps Parents to Grow

“To have someone truly believe in you as a person can change everything,” said Christina* 36, who recently completed Catholic Charities Boston’s Family Support Services program.

Based in Lowell, but currently serving 104 clients from Worcester to Gloucester, the Family Support Services Program is an in-home and community visitation and family support service that works with parents directly, helping them to become more active, responsible, and supportive to their children’s needs.

Having recently regained full custody of her son, Christina said she cannot thank the Family Support Services program enough for providing her with the practical resources and support she needed to get back on her feet and become the best version of herself for her child.

Christina worked closely with Family Support Specialist Allison Almeida for a little over two years, learning how to better manage her time and priorities, utilize community resources, and most importantly, believe in herself.

“From the moment I started working with Catholic Charities, they were working with me,” said Christina.

In addition to providing an enduring sense of hope and encouragement, Almeida helped Christina to access basic needs services at the Agency, including gift cards that allowed her to purchase clothing and essential items for her son.

“The most rewarding thing for me is seeing a family grow and rejoice when their child is able to safely come home,” said Luce Lopez, Director of the Family Support Services Program. “It is special to be a part of that and is a reminder that the job we are doing is truly helping.”

Another one of Almeida’s clients, Blu*, is in the process of working to regain custody of her two and a half-year-old son. Blu said the Family Support Services program has helped her to address her struggles with substance use disorder and build her self-sufficiency. On their first day working together, Almeida brought Blu a binder full of parenting wisdom, from everyday life skills tips to information on budgeting and money management.

Above all, though, Blu said Almeida has provided her the support system she has always longed for, inspiring her to do everything she can to be reunited with her son.

“Allison has been the first person I’ve encountered through this process who hasn’t judged me,” said Blu. “She wants to learn about me and help me. To me, that is amazing.”

Although the Family Support Services team currently consists of seven Family Support Specialists, Lopez said they are looking to expand in the near future to meet the rising demand and aspire to eventually serve communities in the South Shore as well. Learn more about the Family Support Services program here.

*Due to the sensitive nature of the real life experiences shared within the story clients are referred to by their first or middle names only to protect privacy.

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