As I listened, problem categories emerged. The stories sorted out to three areas: emotional disconnection from their children and families, severe financial difficulty due to the hazards of finding and keeping a job, and the demands of government as five branches were breathing down their neck. These five included Child Support Enforcement, Department of Social Services (T.A.N.F. repayments), Probation and Parole, Court (costs, fines, restitutions) and, on occasion, the Foster Care system.
I've never been incarcerated, nor faced pressures that were so exquisitely entangled. Feeling great frustration for their situation, I stood up at that meeting and told those men that I was very new to these issues, but committed myself to work on their problem. Though overwhelmed, I set out to study the issues to see what could be done.
This Saturday morning began the journey of developing the Family Restoration Network.