community. I hope and wish that no one has to go through what I went through, and that people will hear my story and change things.
advocate and foster parent, along with my sister-in-law, until I eventually won my case, moved into a bigger house with my mother, and took care of my children. T.S. started to support me and help repair our family. She would let me have family time in her home like how we used to live together in our old house. I would come over almost every day after the kids were placed with her. We would watch movies and order pizza. This changed our lives. I felt supported and loved and my children started to heal once we were back together. After some time, my children were returned to me and my DYFS case was closed. I am now divorced and have a good relationship with my children’s father. We work together for our children. All my children are active in arts and music. But it’s far from a happy ending because I still deal with anxiety and depression. I panic every time a stranger knocks on the door. What Communities Need to Know and Do Better What I wish would change? I wish that the system would have tried harder to place my children with a relative instead of traumatizing them further by splitting them up and placing them with strangers. I wish there was a place in my community where I could have received the help I needed. I wish the Medicaid system would try to find out why therapists and psychiatrists in my neighborhood refuse to accept Medicaid. I wish it wasn't so hard to get help for utilities or homecare needs. Although it's a little simpler, as of late, I wish it was easier to get a job that helps people work around their family’s hours. I wish there was a way to find legitimate at-home careers, affordable childcare, and activities. I’m sure the justice system has changed significantly since our case but being a woman of color who suffered from mental trauma made me feel like a criminal in their eyes. They should have recognized that I was suffering and that I needed help, not punishment. I should not have been treated like a criminal simply for being depressed. I wish I was bubble-wrapped and insulated from everyone—my neighborhood, DYFS, police officers, and the mental health
Quincy and Aprille Smith _________________________
Aprille Smith is a proud mother and community organizer in New Jersey. She hopes to continue her efforts in supporting parents and children who have experienced the child welfare system.
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 23
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