Better Together - Kenny and Maribel's Story


The biggest concern of the average 11-year-old boy should be if his basketball team is going to make the playoffs and the big history test next Wednesday.

Kenny was worried about not making enough money selling CDs on the streets of Lake Worth. He hoped people would buy his wares because if he came home short, both he and his sister Maribel would be in trouble.

Bouncing around from hotel to hotel, Kenny and Maribel were eventually removed from their mother’s care due to abuse and neglect.  With their biological father in prison several states away, the siblings were sent to live with their grandparents.

Mother Casey abandoned the case plan established by the Department of Children and Families to reunite the siblings with their mother and even went as far as to say she wished to be reunited with her daughter, but not her son.

Kenny felt abandoned, hurt and alone.

Case Manager Leona teamed up with Trauma Care Therapist Karrah to ensure that both children got the services they needed.

“We quickly began to realize that these children were let down in most areas of their life and did not receive the needed services to address their needs,” Leona said. “Kenny and Maribel had an unstable and unhealthy home life. They lacked support, and were significantly behind academically with no support.”

Kenny was known for getting into trouble both at school and at summer camp and had been suspended from both. Acting in an inappropriate sexual manner in front of his peers and mentioning self-harm, Kenny was put on a diversion program and had to complete Department of Juvenile Justice sanctions.

Community Partners stepped in and immediately started to advocate a safety plan for the young man which included therapy, tutoring sessions and psychiatric services coupled with medication.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Leona. “And it took a lot of coordination with other organizations such as DCF, the Legal Aid Society and Guardian Ad Litem program, but we didn’t give up. We kept advocating until Kenny and Maribel got the services they needed.”

While they were coordinating with these different organizations, Karrah and Leona would regularly make home visits to ensure the health and safety of their young clients. In addition to addressing behavioral concerns, they also worked to educate the family on the nature of trauma and how it specifically impacted Kenny and Maribel.

Understanding that every case is different, Karrah and Leona had to try a variety of approaches and techniques to ensure that their methods were working for their clients. Assisting with this process were the siblings’ grandparents.

Despite the fact that conflicting schedules made getting to appointments difficult, Kenny and Maribel’s grandparents showed up for every single one. They voiced their concerns, asked questions and fought for their grandchildren’s welfare and wellbeing.

After several months of working together, the young children were linked up to all of the resources they needed. Kenny has shown a remarkable amount of improvement.  His impulse control has improved significantly, his grades are getting better and he is acting out less at home. While Kenny and Maribel still have the occasional spat of sibling rivalry, these matters are peacefully and easily resolved thanks to the mechanisms they learned through Community Partners.

“This family never gave up and continued to ensure all needs were met,” said Leona. “This story shows the importance of working as a team and ensuring all parties and family members are on the same page in order to see positive change. Although, there were a number of barriers to get all members on the same page, successful change was made because team members did not give up. The active participation and engagement of family throughout the process made all of the difference.”