Dean used to brag that he was “born to be in jail.” He was a troubled kid headed for serious trouble. However, that life is now behind him with the help of the team at Hollygrove dedicated to seeing him succeed. Hollygrove is an agency of Uplift Family Services.
Dean’s father was a gang member and had been shot and killed. His mother was a drug addict and a prostitute. As a youngster, Dean had been a resident at Hollygrove before it ceased being a residential facility in 2005. Then he was placed in a foster home.
Not surprisingly, he had started tagging, he was affiliated with a gang and wanted to join. At his foster home, because of his history, the rules were very strict. He rebelled. His behavior became increasingly angry and openly defiant, and his foster mother considered having him removed from her home.
At 14, Dean was referred back to Hollygrove by his therapist for their Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS) program. The goal was to address his destructive, defiant behavior and verbal aggression. Hollygrove’s TBS team joined with his foster mother, and employees from the Department of Child and Family Services, probation and school to help him.
Dean’s TBS Specialist made him a promise: “I’m with you.” The team dug in and immediately worked to provide a routine and structure for Dean to give him a sense of control and predictability. The team discovered that he was a good artist and that he was into basketball and had a talent for it. Soon Dean was enrolled in a local basketball league where he was accepted and his self-esteem was given a boost. A computer graphics course was offered to give him an artistic outlet. To help provide Dean with trusting relationships, he was connected with a mentor, who happened to be his school bus driver and basketball coach. The team also worked with his foster mother to help her better deal with his behaviors at home and provide continuity to what Dean was receiving at Hollygrove. They also spoke with his teachers and engaged them in the process.
As a wake-up call, Dean was taken to Chino Prison so he could see firsthand where his continued destructive behavior would lead.
Because of this caring, patient group of people, a chance to participate in outside activities and a renewed relationship with his foster mother, Dean started to flourish. His teachers began to recognize and utilize his leadership skills. “We invested lots of time,” said Titus Ogbuafor, behavior specialist at Hollygrove. “Coordination between teachers at school, foster mom at home and his outside activities showed Dean that everyone was invested in his future.”
Since leaving the TBS program, Dean has continued his relationship with his mentor. He has remained safe at home and has developed a strong relationship with his foster mother. Just as importantly, he has stayed in school and out of jail.