Youth Villages stories


Jazmine, 17, was adopted by her grandparents when she was 2 months old. When they divorced, her grandfather, George, lost custody because he struggled with substance abuse.

“The state thought I’d be safer with grandma, but it became obvious that she only wanted me for the child support,” Jazmine said. “She beat on me physically and emotionally. Grandpa had his struggles, but he loved me with all of his heart.”

Jasmine became depressed and began harming herself to cope. She spent years trying to run away to her grandfather’s while he bent over backward to regain custody.

By the time George and Jazmine entered Youth Villages’ Intercept program, George had overcome his personal battles as well as his fight for his granddaughter. They met Ginger Barnes, family intervention specialist, who visited each week.

“Ginger came into our lives at the perfect time,” Jazmine said. “We were reunited and on cloud nine, but living together again was a transition. Ginger helped us take next steps and build a strong home together.”

Ginger met with them both independently and as a family. They used Collaborative Problem Solving to identify expectations and concerns with their relationship and in the home.

“CPS conversations came naturally to this family,” Ginger said. “They both think critically about their obstacles and are committed to overcoming them. They’re great listeners and want to be as supportive as possible.”

George stopped working temporarily to devote his attention to Jazmine. When he noticed her grades slipping at school, he voiced his concern to Ginger. After sitting down to a CPS conversation with Ginger and George, Jazmine realized how distracted she had been by her emotions and anxieties.

“We were able to uncover the guilt she has for leaving her little brother, who still lives with their grandmother,” Ginger said. “She was scared for his safety and needed to process her own trauma.”

Ginger walked with Jazmine around the neighborhood to work through her emotions and practice positive coping skills. They planned ways to handle situations that could cause anxiety, like running into her grandmother in the community.

“I can tell Ginger anything and everything, just like grandpa,” Jazmine said. “She’s like a big sister. With both of them, I feel more supported than ever.”

Ginger took Jazmine shopping when she needed clothes or school supplies. They talked about friends, boys and healthy relationships. George appreciated Ginger’s presence as a female role model and Jazmine signed up for a mentor program to continue building positive relationships.

“Jazmine and George have done an incredible job using CPS to overcome their difficult past,” Ginger said. “They continue to practice active listening and Jazmine has a more positive outlook overall. They have been a joy to work with.”

Jazmine is taking a leap of faith and planning a supervised visit with her grandmother, as long as Ginger is there and she has George’s support. Her grades have improved and she no longer copes with depression in harmful ways.

“All we needed was each other,” George said. “But now, we have the skills to make our home the best it can be. We owe that to Ginger.”