Lottie didn’t have a typical childhood. Growing up with her dad who lived with a medical condition that left him physically challenged meant that Lottie had to carry more of the caregiving duties because he wasn’t able. Everything in Lottie's life took a backseat to her dad's condition and needs, including school and her own social development. Eventually her dad’s condition worsened and he was moved into a full-time care facility. Without any family, Lottie was placed into foster care at the age of 14.
After years of caregiving, Lottie suddenly found herself without a perceived purpose. She was supposed to go to school, to make friends and to think about her fatherless future, but was completely unaccustomed to thinking beyond just daily survival. It was a lot to process. While her foster parents and team worked to help her adjust to her new life slowly, Lottie found herself floundering and attracted to a negative group of friends who made her feel instantly like she belonged. Uncertain of what to do on her own, Lottie was easily swept up by these new friends and the way they quickly befriended her. And these new influences weren’t safe. With her friends, Lottie started sneaking out at night, vandalizing property, shoplifting and drinking alcohol. She seemed intent on making bad choices after bad choices, and eventually she became involved with the Juvenile Justice System. But it was during a short stay in Juvenile Hall that Lottie would get her first second chance at a better future.
As part of the Hall's Coastal Valley Academy program, Lottie was matched with a mentor and supported in her efforts to get back on track in school. It was also in CVA that Lottie was connected with the Independent Living Program (ILP). Between her mentor, Sadie, and her ILP worker, Beth, Lottie started to understand that thinking about her life in terms of where she wanted to go was possible. She didn’t have to limit herself to only her current circumstances. Her future was yet to be written!
Lottie's time in CVA proved exceptionally productive. Without distractions or negative influences, Lottie was able to complete her high school credits, obtain her California ID and she even planned out some post-program goals. When the time came, Lottie also successfully transitioned from the Hall into one of FCNI's Transitional Age Youth apartments. Again, Lottie was supported in adjusting to her new living situation with its new expectations and increased freedoms.
This time around, Beth, her ILP worker, emphasized how influential outside forces could be, and Lottie was encouraged to attend TAY support groups and ILP workshops to make healthier connections. Lottie also remained in close contact with her mentor, Sadie. As part of the TAY program, Lottie was given the Skills for LIFEbook, a handbook which details vital life skills such as building healthy relationships and maintaining mental wellness. Being in a caretaker role for so long, Lottie was trying out new self-care muscles and discovering that taking better care of herself improved her entire outlook on life.
Lottie knows that her journey in life has not been typical which has created problems and hurdles for her along the way. But by connecting first with CVA and then with ILP and TAY Housing, Lottie has accessed the resources and support she needed to overcome these hurdles while learning skills to tackle any new ones that come her way. Recently, Lottie dealt with a difficult situation at her job. A customer yelled at her and then a coworker got upset with her. Instead of giving up or giving into her emotions, Lottie talked through the situation with Beth and her employer, and she was encouraged and supported through some very challenging conversations. She knew where to go for help, and how to receive it, which helped her find a positive resolution. While nothing is perfect, having the support she needs has helped Lottie reestablish her own sense of self, and she couldn't be more proud of what she's achieved and where she's headed.
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