It Takes a Village to survive as a Family

By Raven Sigure

This has been a difficult year by many standards, and having navigated two hurricanes and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all while taking care of 5 children, I can say without a doubt that no one should have to face these adversities alone.

When the pandemic first hit, through my work with Casey Family Programs and the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance, I helped find new, innovative ways to support parents. I work at the local, state, and national level — engaging with families to ensure that they have the support and resources they need to persevere through difficult times. One of my favorite things about my job is getting to be with parents and families in the moment when the lightbulb goes off and they realize that they’ve made incredible progress and have the stability to support their families on their own. I had no idea that I would one day need that very support.

It started gradually. My employment wasn’t affected by COVID-19, but my husband’s was. He lost enough hours of work that it was a significant loss of income for our family — but not enough that he qualified for unemployment. I have always been the caretaker for others. I am the strong one who can handle anything, so the kind of vulnerability necessary to seek help when we couldn’t make ends meet was a difficult step to take, but a necessary one that allowed us to provide for our family.

Once I asked for help and made my needs known, I realized how comforting it is to know that there are people out there who have your back. Casey Family Programs and the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance frequently called me to make sure that my family had everything we needed as Hurricane Laura battered Louisiana in mid-August., More than just the resources we received, this expression of care and outpouring of genuine support had a profound impact on my children. They saw firsthand that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it, and that they don’t have to tackle tough challenges on their own. Communities and networks of support are vital, and an integral part of raising a family. I am incredibly proud that when I ask my son what he wants to be when he grows up, he no longer answers “a football player,” he says that he wants to have a job “like Ms Kara’s,” from the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance who supported us every step of the way.

Given my experience over the past months, I would strongly encourage anyone who’s apprehensive about reaching out for help to take a leap of faith and see what happens. An old proverb tells us that “it takes a village to raise a child,” but in times of unprecedented crisis and uncertainty, it can take a village to survive as a family.

As I tell my children, “God doesn’t send us the people we want, he sends us the people we need,” and the people we all need are out there — we just have to ask for their help. Reach out to helplines or other support services in your community, connect with other parents and families in similar situations, and don’t be afraid to lean on one another. I am so grateful that in my time of need, I had the support to carry on. It has changed my life and the life of my family forever, and I want that for every parent and family in need.

Raven Sigure is a parent advocate, wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Abbeville , Louisiana

Young people + parents + relative caregivers working together to elevate voices of those with firsthand experience = change in the child welfare system