Success Stories

Residential Care

My story starts with my childhood. My mom was 16 when she had me and struggled with a lot of traumatic things for her age, and my dad is schizophrenic so life was very traumatic and unstable. Everything in him wants to be a father, but he is unable to and I am accepting and understanding of that. I was mostly raised by my grandparents but having no father figure and an unstable relationship with my mother left me feeling like I had a hole within and I started searching for validation in unhealthy ways, particularly from men that were very toxic.

When I was roughly 8-10 years old my uncle (mom’s brother) was murdered, and about 2 months after that my grandmother (mom’s mom) was diagnosed with lung cancer. She slowly withered away until I was 14, when she then passed away. My Grandma had raised me so it was heartbreaking to lose her and I had no one to talk to about it. I felt anger, guilt and so much hurt and began to spiral downhill.

I had been smoking weed since I was 14 but when I was 18 I met a man that introduced me to IV drugs and I was using heavily. His influence took over my life and he had total control over me. I dropped out of school, was homeless, sleeping in a camper with no water on a pile of dirty clothes and was just a shell of a person.
Not long after that I discovered I was pregnant. A lot of people advised me that I should terminate the pregnancy but something inside me stopped me from doing that. My boyfriend was happy about the pregnancy but I knew we could not raise a child together. We made some big mistakes that resulted in us both being arrested and sent to jail. During that time in jail I leaned heavily on the bible and when I was released I got baptized. I have felt since then that a higher power has been guiding me and helping me.

While I was in jail I got really sick and light headed and I ended up getting released. My other grandma came and got me and supported me through everything. I cannot stress enough how much she has supported me throughout my entire life, and especially with my recovery. I ended up reaching out to an old school counselor from my high school who had really supported me in the past and she recommended Florence Crittenton. My grandmother really pushed for me to take advantage of this opportunity, and regardless of how hard it was for her to let me leave again, she gave me the support I needed to go through with it.
When I looked at the website it sounded too good to be true and that this opportunity was better than anything I could wish for. I filled out the paperwork with the help of my grandmother and was accepted and moved in when I was roughly 7 or 8 months pregnant.
From the moment I arrived I knew I was in the right place. It was not always easy but I completely gave myself to the program and I had no doubt it was where I needed to be.

Florence Crittenton’s program has helped me completely turn my life around. I have learned so much. One of the most important parts of being in recovery is community and that is what Florence Crittenton provides. I have been blessed with beautiful relationships with the other women in the program. They understand me in every sense; motherhood, recovery, and they are now lifelong friends. The program has helped me reshape my relationship with women. My clinical providers have modeled what a healthy relationship is, one that holds boundaries and involves safe, loving, discipline and sometimes a little tough love and that doesn’t mean you’re not loved, in fact it means you are loved. I had never experienced that and I am so grateful to have learnt that lesson at this point in my life not just for myself but for my daughter too.

I also worked through a lot of my trauma at Florence Crittenton and have come to a place of forgiveness for my Mom. I am grateful for this as I know not forgiving can cause bitterness and I have accepted that she was doing the best she could at age 16 as a mother.
I learned about parenting not just from my staff and peers but from parenting classes. The Circle of Security class helped me understand how important it is to be a safe base for my child and that her emotions and behaviors are never malicious, that she is just a little person that needs me. I also know that I want my child to be a child and not be the parent like I often had to be growing up. I want her to always feel safe and secure and not seek love in all the wrong ways.
I set a lot of goals while I was at Florence Crittenton. The first one was to get my HiSet which I did within 7-8 months. I then enrolled at Helena College and am studying towards a degree in Social Work. My therapist, an LCSW at Florence Crittenton changed my life so I want to do that for others in the future. In my first semester I got a 4.0! I have never done particularly well at school so this was a huge confidence boost.

I have recently moved from the Recovery Home into Florence Crittenton’s Transitional Living Program and into an apartment on the campus. This is a great program where I pay rent that is put into a savings account. I am so grateful for this opportunity. It was scary to think about leaving so much support and living on my own. Florence Crittenton is the first place I have ever lived that I have felt safe and secure. I know I have a lot to learn about being an adult and parenting by myself so being so close to my team is reassuring and still having that community around me helps me know I have people around to support me.
My daughter is now 18 months old and she is thriving. She attends Florence Crttenton’s Child Enrichment Center and is a beautiful, confident, happy, healthy little girl. I love her with my whole heart and am so thankful that I am the parent I am today so she can have a happy childhood knowing she is loved.

This program has given me wings, it has broken cycles, I wish every program was like this, it is truly amazing and I would tell anyone that is considering it to just do it!


Before entering the Florence Crittenton Home, I was a young 14 year old girl who thought that life was normal. My mom had two jobs and five children and was struggling to make ends meet. My siblings and I would run the town while she was at work. Often we would never even make it home for the night, and mom didn’t know where we were anyways.

One day my mom took me in for a doctor’s visit. The nurse told me that I was pregnant. As my heart sank I started to cry, only to know I had to tell my mom. As I entered the waiting room tears fell down my cheeks. She was worried and asked me what was wrong. I told her to read the paperwork and ran out to the car. With a motherly look on her face she told me “it is your choice to either have this baby or take care of it now”. I sat their thinking to myself “I do not want to take that chance knowing I did not even try”. I decided to become a young mother not knowing how hard it truly would be.

Around the time I was eight months pregnant mom had her breaking point. Alcohol and drugs turned her life upside down. As she went off to jail my older sister, younger brother, and I were placed in foster care; only days away of having my own little boy.

On May 23, Robert was born and I felt scared and all alone, but it was time to grow up. I wanted what was best for this beautiful baby boy and the “best” was me.

One of my very first grownup decisions came about 2 weeks later. Either I was going to Florence Crittenton Home or the state was going to take my baby boy. Already feeling so scared and alone I made my decision and said my good-byes to my family and friends.

As I accepted the opportunity to be a resident of Florence Crittenton, I knew it would be a huge challenge. I was given warm welcomes by staff, other young mothers, and their children. My stay there was a year and 1 day. They taught me multiple qualities that I have and now use in my everyday life. They gave me strength when I was weak, and mother hood became my life.

We had chores to keep our living spaces clean, school or work to attend, and children to take care of as well. We had everything we ever needed at Florence Crittenton Home, from someone to talk to when you’re down, or helping hands when you need them. FCH provided a warm roof over our heads, food in our tummies and clothes on our backs. If we needed a diaper, formula, or medicine, all necessities were there, as well as a Child Enrichment Center. We earned our privileges through our daily life, as well as our children’s too.

By the time I left I was on the honor roll of Helena High School, and my parenting classes and counseling sessions were completed. My goals that were set for me to achieve were done and it was time to go home. I made close relationships with other women and children as well as staff members too. I had survived the Florence Crittenton challenge and was on my way to achieve more goals.

As I returned home to my family and friends, it was as if we all were different people, for the better that is. Mom was done drinking and doing drugs and was so much more amazing and beautiful! We were all together again and ready to better our lives. I went back to school and got a job to support my child and myself. School, work, and being a full time mom was tough. We moved to the beautiful Bitterroot Valley in 2006. I met the most amazing man that loves me. He took on as a father figure to Robert and we had a beautiful baby boy that is now 3. As the years have gone by I have thought to myself that Florence Crittenton was a true blessing for me. I worked to get my GED, and I’m now attending the University of Montana for an Associate’s Degree in Radiology. Robert is now eleven years old and doing great in school as well.

Robert’s Story:

If it wasn’t for Florence Crittenton I really don’t know where I would be right now. I could be living with a family all the way across the country. I really thank Florence Crittenton for what they did for my mother and I.

The activities I am in are the pep club which is the kids/people who help with posters etc. I like to do any sport I can get myself into. Last year and the year before that I got fifth place in wrestling out of the whole state of Montana. Next year I will be a starter in football and basketball.

I love school and I have straight A’s. I look up to my mother in school she is doing just as well as I am. She is the BEST mother a eleven year old could ask for.
My favorite things to do with my family is, going camping at horse creek hot-springs and when we go sledding and road trips.

I have a great relationship with my mom my dad and the best little brother I could ask for. My little brother and I are inseparable. My mom and I are super close and we will never hide anything from each other. I am so thankful to Florence Crittenton.

There are a lot of reasons why I needed Florence Crittenton. I was a pregnant teenager, but maybe that doesn’t tell you the whole story. I made a lot of mistakes, I had a lot of changes to make if I was going to be a healthy, loving mom to my daughter.

Before I came to Florence Crittenton I couldn’t trust adults. I just didn’t trust people. I think it was because I had 6 different dads and they kept leaving. Every time they left I thought it was my fault.

After a while I started trusting the staff at Florence Crittenton –especially my case manager and my therapist. I realized how much Florence Crittenton has to offer and I decided to work harder.

I had a lot of opportunities to change my life before going to Florence Crittenton, but I didn’t take advantage of them. When I became pregnant, I knew something had to change. A baby would not fit into my old lifestyle. She was too important.

I want to be a mother to my child, not a friend. I hope and pray that I can teach her that school is so important. I missed a lot of school when I was growing up. I’m working on getting my high school diploma right now. It’s hard, but I’m Bella’s role model and I want an education.

I want my daughter to grow up with rules, to know that she is safe and loved and that I am paying attention to her. That I am connected to her and that I care what she is doing, where she is, where she is going, who her friends are, who she is and who she wants to be. I didn’t have that. Florence Crittenton didn’t have to teach me to love my daughter, but they have taught me how to be a good parent. Not only to my daughter, but to myself.

Thank you Florence Crittenton for helping me. I’ve never had so many true friendships in my life.

The first weeks of learning about our teenage daughter’s pregnancy were filled with roiling emotions.  We felt shock, anger, betrayal, but most of all acute anxiety and dread for what the future might hold.  All paths seemed dangerous and full of uncertainty – the opposite of what one wishes when difficult decisions need to be made.  What we were clear on was that the primary decision was our daughter’s to make, and she determined early on that terminating the pregnancy was not an option.  Going forward, she needed real world information and a deep reality check on single parenting in order to proceed to the next set of decisions.

When we found the traces of various Crittenton Homes on the web, we were encouraged – someone had thought about how to help frightened and unprepared teenagers learn about parenting, adoption, safe relationships, completing high school, building a home, getting a job, and setting standards for other accomplishments and life goals. Crittenton programs had mostly been established in the 19th century by local communities and were not connected to each other administratively, so they were highly variable in their present-day forms.  Although there was even a Crittenton program in our area, it had shrunk to a day program with no wrap-around support.  Another in a distant state had full support, but only up until birth, leaving the perilous early months of parenting or post-placement counseling up to chance.  Still another would only take clients from the state justice system. Finally, we found Florence Crittenton in Helena.

What impressed us from the beginning was the continuity and commitment of the core staff.  Not only had many of them experienced and succeeded at teen parenting in their own lives, they also had personal stories of adoption as often being the best possible decision a girl can make.  The balance of these professional and personal qualities convinced us that our daughter would find everything she needed to make the right decision about her child and her future.

Most importantly for us, the staff provided counseling, set appropriate limits, conducted important group sessions around important life issues, and in general made sure that every girl at the Center had the emotional support she needed to make the best decisions.  An unexpected benefit for our daughter were the lessons being put in practice all around her by the other teen mothers – sometimes poorly but often exceptionally well.  What the extraordinarily qualified and devoted staff in Helena has done is to provide a safe but realistic world for these young mothers and mothers-to-be.  The young women are soon enlisted in making medical and other appointments for their the babies and themselves.  They learn to be involved in cooking, cleaning, and calculating the actual costs of food and other aspects of the lives they will be leading.  They were taught truly relevant strategies of how to parent—and healthy ways of living and parenting.  And they were constantly assisted in navigating the extraordinary path of advancing their education while raising a vulnerable infant.

In this context, our daughter rose to the extraordinary challenge of her situation.  She delivered a healthy baby, confirmed her decision to parent her child, and was able to move into her own apartment where she cared for her baby and completed high school, with continuing support from the Center’s child care and counseling services.

As parents and now grandparents, we are enormously grateful to the loving and learning that the Crittenton Center fostered.  These are made manifest every day in the wonderful mother our young daughter has become.

I ended up at Florence Crittenton as my last chance. I had been on probation but after what was my final mistake when I was 4 months pregnant, my Probation Officer found Florence Crittenton and proposed the idea to the judge and he agreed.

I got to FCH still in rebel mode and to be honest I feel like I left in that way too not realizing how much of a special opportunity I had to be there.  I realized after being in the real world with just me and my child that being at FCH was the biggest blessing not only for me but for my son too.  My experience there was amazing.   I met lifelong friends and people I can always call if need to.  I had been in a youth center for a year before I went to FCH so I was not happy about being there. I was very upset but even though I was away from everyone I loved, FCH made me feel like they were my family. They have seen me at my worst and still would never turn their cheek to me. 

They took us on amazing outings that proved to me I didn’t have to get high to have fun or be happy. They showed me the beauty of the world without drugs. I appreciate so many little things I didn’t before I went there. I learned to love the small blessings in life. I learned how to take care of my child in an effective way and with their bonding and attachment group I learned how to be bonded with my son.  He and I are like two peas in a pod.  He’s 2 now and can already express his feelings to me and only me so I know everything I was taught there made me the mother I am today. 

I see my child who is polite and kind and very loving to anyone he meets. My son is the most amazing person I have ever met. It almost makes me cry writing all of this because I have so much gratitude and love towards everyone at FCH.   They gave me my life back and made it so I could raise my son with high standards and unconditional love.  I wasn’t raised with rules or chores or any of that but my son has very strict rules and a very strict schedule and he himself will say “momma keep Romey safe”, and that makes my heart smile because FCH taught me that rules and high expectations make a child feel safe and that means the world to me that my child feels safe.

Even when I’m just feeding him or changing him or doing anything a mother is required to do he will say, “Thank you Momma so much, best Momma ever”.   I’ve never been proud of anything I’ve done in my life but FCH gave me the skills to be a good Mom and that is something I am so proud of myself for.

FCH also taught me a lot about relationships.  I thought I loved my child’s Dad but I didn’t and it was a very emotionally abusive relationship. Once I got home I left him and it was the best decision I could have made not only for me but for Roman as well. Now I am with someone who treats me like a princess and tells my son that he’s his son and he’s his daddy. He provides for me and doesn’t emotionally abuse me or abuse me in anyway.  I have a job and am registered for next semester’s  classes. My life’s on track more than ever and it feels so good. I’m no longer involved with DFS or Probation.

Being a Mom is more than changing diapers and being their just to take care of your child.  Being a Mom, in my eyes, is the biggest blessing you could be given. It’s about putting someone entirely before yourself and instilling love and morals into their mind.  We live in a very bad world but becoming a good person starts at home. Being a parent is the most important job and privilege there is. My child has taught me more than anyone about what matters and what loving someone truly means.

I couldn’t write in words how much you (FCH) all did for my life and my son’s life. I’m forever grateful. Thank you.

Before I arrived in the loving arms of the Florence Crittenton Home I was a hurting, scared little girl who was only a shadow of herself. I was only eight months clean from meth, which was my way of coping with the pain I was feeling. I received daily beatings with a bat which hurt… but the emotional abuse dug deeper into my soul. Constantly being told I would never amount to anything, I was not loved, I did not belong anywhere; my life felt worthless. The two people in my world who were supposed to protect me and be my safety net were just the opposite. I was alone. The environment I had to live in was unsanitary and unhealthy as well.

I arrived at Florence in so much pain and with my two day old daughter. I had no desire to live, only to be freed of the pain. My years at the home were difficult but I found in time I would learn to live. There were days in which I lost my privileges but there were also the days I received all my privileges and found my successes. I have learned all of us make choices and have consequences for them, both the good and the bad. Shortly after leaving the home I made a choice, I gave my two year old daughter a chance to have the childhood I never got and gave her to a loving family.

Now that I have been out of the home for eight years I have set certain goals in which I am determined to complete. One in which I would like to become a counselor. I already have my associate’s degree in psychology and am enrolled in the bachelors program. I have a loving husband of 6 years. In 2006, Florence Crittenton gave us the most extraordinary wedding. The wedding officially helped me draw out my path. I could have chosen to follow the dysfunction and pain in which my relatives had laid out for me, or I could choose to give a voice to other abuse survivors, teens, and young moms; bringing them hope and giving them strength. Well, I chose to be the voice. Florence Crittenton has shown me a better world and given me a family – such as my mother figures like; Sarah Smith, Joan Fitzgerald, and Barb Burton to name a few.

If you had asked me ten years ago were I see myself in ten years I would have said “dead.” I did not believe my life was worth saving and was convinced I was going to die. Today, I have the sweetest son and we have an incredible relationship. I have a loving husband, a home, and a bright future.
I will be a part of the same community which has given me so much courage, strength, and hope.

I was just 13 when I got to the Crittenton Home.  Scared and all alone not knowing what really just happened to me.  It took a little bit to get used to.  After I started engaging myself in their programs, I realized what little I knew about having a kid…. let alone raising one at such a young age.  Eighth grade is not a choice age for this to happen.  I went through my pregnancy taking all the classes I could;  and I really leaned a lot!  You see, I didn’t grow up in your ideal family setting, so this was all a good learning experience.  I got to my 8th month and the father and I decided to make an adoption plan.  And with the great staff at the home, I was able to find my little bundle of joy a perfect home to grow up in.

Now 21 years later my little girl is going to have her own baby!  Thanks to all the classes I took, I have also been married for 16 years and have 3 more children with my husband.

It was so scary at first and all I thought about what how to get somewhere else.  That didn’t last too long.  As soon as I gave the Crittenton Home a chance, I got a second chance at life.  To re-learn how really I should have been raised.

Dear Florence Crittenton Staff,

Before I came here I was in a bad place in many different ways, most of which you all know about. I was a very damaged person about to bring a baby into the world and I was very scared even if I never told anyone. After I got here I was still scared of just about everything including being around all of you knowing that one day I would have to leave you all to go home. I was scared to get close to any of you but found myself forming one type of relationship or another with all of you! Being here for close to 6 months was one of the hardest choices I have ever had to make and it turned into one of the best! All of you have made one kind of impact on my life and in turn my baby boys. You guys will never know how much each and every one of you means to me and I thank all of you for believing in me and giving me every tool possible to be the best person and mother I can be as well as helping me find my voice.

I will never forget any of you and I will never stop coming to visit! You are my second family and the biggest group of people to think I am worth anything and can do just about everything. My life has been changed in the best ways possible because you guys told me I could do it. I’m glad this place is available for young mothers even if not all of them feel the same way. Keep doing what you guys are doing because you all helped change my life and I’m sure you are going to change many, many more and I want all of you to be proud like you want me to be proud! I love all of you so much and will tell everyone I know what a wonderful job you do! See you guys soon!!!

Love Julia

My story begins about 13 years ago. It was a normal spring day, and I had stayed home sick from school. Someone my family had trusted, someone I trusted, raped me in my home that day.

Needless to say, things would never be the same for my family and I again. My mother blamed herself for having to be at work that day, I blamed myself for staying home from school, and it really just tore my family apart during a time when we needed each other the most. I hated that this happened to me. I felt so alone and different now, it’s hard to explain but eventually it just drove me to have little respect for myself. I started skipping school, doing drugs with people much older than me, then I began running away from home for weeks at a time. I didn’t care about anyone or anything.

One year later, my case finally went to trial and I was preparing to testify in court when I received the scariest news of my life, I was pregnant.

At 14 years’ old this broken teenager was going to be a mom. After the trial ended, on the day of his conviction, state workers came to my home and took me away. I didn’t get to say good bye to my mom or my siblings. Someone just thought I’d be better off in the foster care system and just like that I was gone. I thought when the trial ended that things had a chance to return to normal, but now I was living with a new family in a strange house with none of my things, pregnant and alone. I didn’t feel excited to become a mom; I wasn’t this happy glowing beautiful person. I was depressed, I was self-harming, consumed by the idea of dying because it would be so much easier.

A few months later, my social worker decided to place me in a group home for pregnant girls, she said I’d meet friends, learn to be a good mom, and promised I’d love it. I moved into Florence Crittenton when I was about 4 months pregnant. There were a lot of girls there, from all over the state. Some had babies already and some were pregnant like me. After a few weeks I made a friend, she was a month ahead of me in her pregnancy and it turned out we had a lot more in common than just being young moms. The loneliness began to fade as I found comfort in talking to her as well as some of the staff. They had given me a safe place to acknowledge what happened to me, and most importantly, heal.

While staying at Florence Crittenton I attended counseling sessions, parenting classes, and even school again. I was helping girls around the home with their kids, learning to cook, and feeling excited for the first time, that I was going to be a mom. Most importantly I think, Florence Crittenton allowed me to rebuild my relationship with my mom, I hadn’t spoken to her or seen her in months and I missed her and still needed her.

Florence Crittenton knew that healthy families didn’t just mean mom and baby. They encouraged healing and forgiveness so that the pain from my past would not be manifested into my child’s life.

I left Florence Crittenton and went home to my family a few weeks before giving birth to my son. He was born healthy, and was the happiest little boy. Twelve years later, he is still the happiest boy I know, he’s got a loving family, two younger brothers, his step dad and me. He plays the saxophone, baseball and probably too much fortnite.

I’ve worked in banking for the past 3 years and am currently a service manager at Wells Fargo bank in Helena and I plan to keep furthering my career in the financial industry. I married my soul mate, Jason last year and together we’ve been raising our 3 wonderful boys.

I can’t imagine having any of this without Florence Crittenton. I was someone who wanted to die when I found out I was pregnant. They taught me that no matter how bad things have been there is something coming that is so worth living for and my baby is going to love me no matter what happened to me or who I used to be.

They taught me that family is everything and it’s never too late to fix things. They gave me the courage to face more than just mother hood but every obstacle that came after because I knew I always had the support of the staff and girls I met there. Many of them I still keep in touch with today.

Without Florence Crittenton I would have given up, and what a shame that would be because I absolutely love my family and my life.

I was 16 and pregnant when I was sent to Florence Crittenton 9 years ago.  I had had a really difficult childhood, my parents didn’t really care about me and I had been in several foster homes and group homes.  I ended up staying until my daughters 3rd birthday and looking back I am so grateful I had that opportunity.

When I first arrived I was angry and scared.  It is hard to be sent away from everything you know when you are pregnant.  Fairly quickly though I made bonds with the other girls in the program and we connected on a different level.  The staff were awesome.  They taught us how to be parents and basic things like how to make homemade, healthy food and how to keep a house.  They taught us everything we needed to know about pregnancy and parenting which is important when you haven’t had a good childhood yourself.

Most importantly they taught us that when things are tough you can get through it.  After being so scared and nervous at first I started to feel more relaxed as I realized I was developing the family I was never given.  I felt like I was given a fresh start.

While I was at Florence Crittenton I went to school and also learnt construction through the Youth Build program.  I am now studying Criminal Justice at Helena College, taking EMT classes, working at Safeway to support myself and am a volunteer firefighter.

I am determined to be financially stable and to have a career that I want so I can give my family opportunities in the future that I never had.

I have been single now for 2 years because I am waiting for someone special.

After having such a rough childhood I knew the odds were against me.  I had been told my whole life that I wouldn’t become anything.  I am determined to succeed and be different.  Florence Crittenton made me feel like I had a second chance and that I can accomplish everything.  Everyone deserves that chance.

Earlier this year I made a very difficult choice to make a loving adoption plan for my daughter Kristina.  I realized with everything I had to do with my studies to be able to make it on my own I wouldn’t be able to provide the life that she deserves.  A loving friend of mine who lives in Kalispell who is older and more financially stable offered to adopt Kristina.  She has a wonderful life, she has excellent grades in school, participates in basketball and cheerleading and is happy and safe and loved.  It was a super hard decision to make but I knew the life that I wanted for her and that I couldn’t provide her with the opportunities she deserved.  I talk to her on the phone twice a week and visit every other month and we have a great relationship.

I have 3 more years left in college and then hope to move on to a law degree.  My teachers say I am doing great and that I am their favorite student.  Having come from a life where my parents didn’t care about me, where my step father abused me from age 3-13 and who was a drug dealer I am determined to beat the odds.  Florence Crittenton helped me realize that I do not need to let my past define my future.  They are a big family of supporters that will be with you throughout life.  You make lifelong friends and learn things you never knew before.  They say life is a gamble, this is the best gamble I could ever have taken in my life.

Before coming to Florence Crittenton, I was living in Big Timber, Montana.  I was struggling with staying in school, using drugs and spending time with people a lot older than me that were not a good influence.  I was living with my Grandma because my mom didn’t want anything to do with me.  When I was 13 I discovered I was pregnant and at that point Child Protective Services got involved in my life.

I was sent to Florence Crittenton by my CPS worker when I was 13 weeks pregnant.  I was nervous at first but the staff made me feel welcome and were really kind to me.

I am so glad I came to Florence Crittenton.  The support I have received here has been really helpful.  I learned so much from the different parenting classes I went to, took part in counseling, and was grateful for  the help that is available 24 hours a day from the staff that work with us.  I think the biggest thing that I have gained is that I am now an awesome mother.  I know if I hadn’t come to Florence Crittenton that I would have kept going down the same path as I had been going down and that I would have had my baby taken away from me.  She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I love her so much.  I am determined to make sure that she doesn’t have a childhood like I have had and that she gets to stay with me.

I have been going to high school in Helena and am catching up and plan to continue school when I go back home to live with my Grandma.  I have had some wobbles but I am doing well with my sobriety and feel like I have a good relapse prevention plan.  I am nervous and excited to leave Florence Crittenton.  I  feel confident that I know how to take care of my child and I know what she needs to be happy and healthy.

My dream is to graduate high school and get my own home and give my daughter a good childhood. I am so grateful to the team of people that have helped me and my daughter.  Everyone at Florence Crittenton, my cps case worker and the teachers at Helena High School have been amazing, so supportive and have helped me so much to get to a place I need to be.   I have grown so much from being here.

My journey to Florence Crittenton began when I was 21 years old. Before coming to Florence Crittenton my life was very tough. I had a difficult childhood, my mom passed away when I was 3 and my Dad was in and out of my life until he too passed away in 2017. My older sister raised me and life was not easy.

I was using meth and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Because of my drug use, I lost custody of my 3 children which was very upsetting. The family that adopted my son changed my baby’s name which was very hurtful and I missed them all desperately.

Eventually, because of my drug use and CPS cases, I went to jail. When I was released I relapsed and was on the run for 6 months. During this time I became pregnant again and went back to jail. When I was in jail I thought so much about how much I wanted to sober up and about all the regrets I had in my life.

When I was 7 months pregnant I went to an intensive drug treatment center for 39 days. When I left that program I had the option of going back to my home town and putting my baby in foster care or coming to Florence Crittenton and being able to keep my baby. I chose to come to Florence Crittenton because I wanted very much to be with my baby.

That was one year ago now, and I have been clean and sober for one year. Florence Crittenton has helped me find myself. It has helped me find who I am without using drugs and who I am as a loving mother to my child. It has helped me get in touch with being a mom and I know I am a really good mother to my baby. I have full custody of him which feels so good. He is a healthy, happy little boy and with the help of Florence Crittenton’s Child Enrichment Center, he is thriving and developing into a beautiful person. He is 10 months old and about to start walking!

I am proud of maintaining my sobriety for a year. I have not really had any cravings and I am thankful to be able to parent again and feel love again. I don’t think I could have done this without relocating. It has been good to be in a new town away from negative people and influences and have all the support that Florence Crittenton provides.

I have a job at a local pharmacy and am hoping to one day become a manager there. I have just got an apartment in Helena so I can continue to get support from Florence Crittenton after I leave and my son can keep coming to the Child Enrichment Center. I am staying at my new apartment at weekends right now and coming back to Florence Crittenton during the week so I can get used to being independent. I want to get my driver’s license and save money and do things the right way with my own hardworking money.

My hopes for my child are that he has a happy, childhood and for him to be successful and to know he is always cared for. I would like one day for him to know about his brothers and sister and for him to meet them.
I am so thankful for the people at Florence Crittenton and all the help they have given me. Being here has changed our lives forever. It has been so good to start over and re-find myself.

When I came to Florence Crittenton, I was 16 years old and pregnant.  My pregnancy was unplanned and was a result of a very abusive relationship.  I was scared and desperately in need of help. I had people advising me to terminate the pregnancy or make an adoption plan but even though I knew my family would have supported whatever decision I made I said no, this little person is mine and I want to parent him.

My school counselor and a friend at my Health Department told me to check out Florence Crittenton so I went to the website and read about it and decided it would be my best chance at being a good mom and getting my High School Diploma.

I arrived at Florence Crittenton and everyone was so lovely and kind to me.  The staff were very supportive and the girls too. Just 2 weeks after being there I was in a parenting group when my waters broke.  This was scary because I was only 29 weeks pregnant.  The wonderful staff took me to the hospital and I ended up being life flighted to another hospital where my baby was delivered at 30 weeks and we stayed for 3 months.

This was such a rollercoaster time for me as my baby had really good days but some really hard ones too and it was scary.  I have never been so touched in my life as I was when Florence Crittenton staff would bring me cards and notes saying they missed me and wishing me and my baby well.  Those messages made me cry.

After 3 months we were able to leave the hospital and go back to Florence Crittenton.  I was very thankful for all the help the lovely staff members gave me.  It was scary to have a small baby and they helped me learn so much and gain confidence that she would be ok.

I think if I hadn’t been at Florence Crittenton I would definitely have dropped out of school and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have got my High School Diploma which I am so proud of.

Now I am discharging from the program to go home I am planning to get a job as a CNA or an RN so I can support my child myself and spoil her.

I’m so thankful that I came to Florence Crittenton and am determined to tell other teen moms about this place.  The staff are wonderful and the girls are super supportive of each other.  I learned so much through parenting groups and most of all that sometimes it’s ok to ask for help.

Family Healing Center

Last May my world was turned upside down, my boyfriend who I was living with was really struggling financially and turned to selling drugs to make ends meet.  Because he was living in my house and the drugs were in my house both of us were taken into custody.  My 2 beautiful children aged 8 months and 3 years old were placed in foster care with my sister and I went to jail.  My boyfriend is still in jail but I was let out after 18 days.

I needed to find a new apartment if I wanted to get custody of my children back due to the substance use that had happened in my previous home. Rent is expensive in Helena but I was determined to find a nice home for my family. I work 2 jobs to make ends meet and pay my rent. I work at Home Depot as a dispatcher and then as an elderly care assistant.  I am thankful for an amazing childcare provider that takes really good care of my children and makes it possible for me to work.

One of the stipulations of my children returning home was that I provide them with a safe and stable home and that I take part in safety resource programs.  One of these resources was Florence Crittenton’s SafeCare Home Visiting Program.  I was not very excited to do this as I am so busy working that I felt like it was a waste of my time.  Now I am so glad that I did it.

Christy, my home visitor was so helpful, I am so thankful to have had her come to my home.  The program taught me so many things.  The health unit taught me all about how to monitor my children’s health, what to look for and when to take them to the doctor or the hospital.  Not long after this we all got Covid and were super sick and I was so thankful to know this information and used every bit of knowledge I had.

The safety unit was so important to our situation.  If my home wasn’t safe cps would have removed my children and Christy came over with outlet covers, latches and door locks.  I did not have money for these items but really wanted my house to be safe. Christy just came over with everything and showed me how to use them which was amazing.  She was just there to help me, no questions asked.

One of the most helpful things Christy worked on with us was a situation where my son was co sleeping with me.  He is a monkey in bed and thrashes around a lot which means I was not getting any sleep. With working 2 jobs I was exhausted.  Christy walked me through steps and gave me some really great bedtime routine tips and now I lie down with him when he goes to bed but he sleeps in his own bed all through the night.  This has been so helpful.  I am about to change my work schedule so I will be working from 6am to 5.30pm and will be getting up at 4.30am every day so good sleep is very important to me.

I have now completed the Safe Care course and liked it so much that I am going to take part in another home visiting program with Florence Crittenton called Parents as Teachers.  It so helpful as a solo mom to have this support and I know this program will help me be successful in getting my cps case dismissed, being a great mom and getting full custody of my children back.

I am a single mother of four with children from five to fourteen years old. Single parenting is a tough job.  In the last year and a half I have especially struggled parenting my oldest son who was recently diagnosed with a mental illness. Naturally, this has affected our whole family dynamic and has been incredibly challenging and at some times, devastating.

Last fall I saw the class Parenting with Love and Logic advertised. I signed up and completed the class and this winter I took Circle of Security. Words cannot describe how grateful I am that I stumbled upon this resource in my community when I did. I don’t even know where to begin. People ask me what these classes have done for me and the three things I always mention are: I don’t argue with a five-year-old anymore, it never worked anyway; I don’t do any of it perfectly but even doing a little bit goes a long way; It’s all about allowing your kids to experience the natural consequences of their actions (good and bad) and remaining a loving, empathetic and supportive parent through it all. There is so much more I could say.

These classes provided the building blocks on which I have worked to create the ‘new-normal’ in our family. I am so grateful to have had the support of these classes during this time. I have recommended these classes to anybody and everybody I can tell about them. The lessons I learned have been invaluable. My only regret is that I did not take them ten years ago.

A wonderful feature of these classes is that they integrate our community and allow parents to learn from each other. There were single moms, affluent families and even a couple who opened up about losing custody of their children because of their drug abuse. It was incredible. These classes benefit our community in so many ways and I would encourage every parent to take part.

Child Enrichment Center

Our journey with Florence Crittenton began a year ago when our family made the decision to welcome a “tiny but mighty” 3 year old boy into our family and hearts through fostering.

When we started out the fostering journey, we initially planned to care for older children. We planned and God seemed to have another plan for us! We didn’t think we’d (dare we say wanted to…) ever enter the diapering, car seat, daycare season again. Thankfully, at the same time, we were introduced to Florence Crittenton’s Preschool where Oliver had been attending for more than a year. During his short life, he has already been through 8 different foster placements and has experienced a lot of turbulence and trauma. Can you even imagine what that would feel like being shuffled around that many times? Wondering where you would be sleeping the next night?

Our family committed to providing a safe, secure and loving home for Oliver. It was also important to us to know that he was receiving nurturing and consistent care while we worked during the day. We have been so impressed with everything about the preschool. Having placed our biological children in other programs in town, we have come to appreciate the exceptional quality of care this team provides. One of the most valuable things is the quality of the relationships that Oliver has built. During his time there, the staff have all stayed the same, which enables him to develop deep, trusting relationships with staff who truly know and care about him. The academic and social emotional aspects are great and our family appreciates the delicious, healthy meals they provide too. I don’t have to take extra time every morning to make lunches or pack snacks. Every extra bit of support helps!

The most valuable piece to us is that Florence Crittenton’s Preschool really understands trauma and building trust through relationships. During some difficult times when Oliver was placed in different homes, he always came back to preschool every day and they provided a place where he could feel safe and secure despite the turbulence going on all around him. The team supports visits and therapies and goes above and beyond to help provide the highest quality care so he has the highest chance of success. He is excited to come to school every day and has recently transitioned into a new classroom with flying colors. This milestone is such a victory for our family as we work to help him heal, build strong relationships and become a healthy and happy kiddo.

We are confident that our family has found the best possible place for Oliver to learn and flourish and wish more programs like Florence Crittenton were available in Helena and across the country. Fostering children like Oliver is so needed. We know it can be daunting, but with daily respite and support and partners like Florence Crittenton, it can be done!

Our family has been lucky enough to have two of our kids attend the Florence Crittenton Preschool program, both of whom were welcomed with open arms and given a safe and loving learning environment. Our son was born with a disability and the teachers and staff gave him all the support he needed and made sure he was included.

Each day we hear stories about the fun that was had and new things the kids are learning about. The teacher and staff go above expectations to make sure each child and family is involved and informed. We feel fortunate that our family has been a part of such an incredible organization.

Thank you Florence Crittenton Preschool for an amazing introduction to learning for our kids!