There is a new resource for Connecticut kids in foster care and their parents, and it is behind the doors of a charming cottage.
It's a safe space for kids in care to spend quality time with their biological parents, while moms and dads can also get support.
The ultimate goal of the Trowbridge Cottage program is getting families back together. With comfort food, a homey touch and laughter filling the kitchen, there's a natural scene between mom and daughter.
“Whatever makes her happy, I’m happy,” Tirra Jones, a mom taking part in the program, said.
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The moment plays out in a cozy house called Trowbridge Cottage. The new space is run by The Children’s Center of Hamden and funded by the Department of Children and Families.
It offers a haven for kids in foster care to meet up with their biological parents.
“We do different activities, like painting, drawing,” Jones said.
For Jones and her 5-year-old daughter Rilynn, this meeting means a quiet time to connect.
“We play at the park!” Rilynn said happily.
“This time right now is just so sacred to her, and precious to her,” Jones said.
Jones and Rilynn, who have been going to the cottage every week now for a few months, are just two of many using the program.
It officially launched with a ribbon cutting last Friday. However, Trowbridge Cottage first opened its doors in October. Since then, it has served 35 parents and 40 children. Families are referred to the program by DCF.
Since October, there have been two reunifications, meaning children return to live with their biological parents permanently.
“It was a great feeling, it really was,” Ismaila Musah, program director, said about those reunifications.
Musah said kids and parents can connect in one of four family rooms filled with books, toys and all things fun. Four transport staff members help bring the kids to the cottage, and parents have access to six coaches for support.
“It also provides a space for parents to find themselves,” Musah said.
Each family collaborates with staff to reach a goal, whether that be adoption, kinship placement or the ultimate goal of reunification.
“We feel good, we feel great, if we’re able to make a difference for these families,” Musah said. “It’s just fulfilling to be able to see this family, you know, get back together.”
That is what Jones is working towards - using the space as a place to share quality time, and love, with her little daughter.
“It’s very important, because our time is everything to us,” Jones said. “As far as, this is my first daughter, so our time is sacred to each other. And I love it. She loves it as well.”