New Peer Parenting Program Works to Reunite Families - 8 News NOW

New Peer Parenting Program Works to Reunite Families

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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Family Court has partnered with East Valley Family Services for a mentoring program for moms and dads charged with abuse and neglect who are hoping to get their kids back.

Stephanie Andrus was stuck in a home of perpetual abuse, and her little boy couldn't bear it.

"His father picked me up and dropped me on the floor of the kitchen," Andrus remembers.

Her son told a teacher. By the end of the day, her son was in Child Protective Services custody, and Andrus was facing neglect charges.

"You don't want anybody to know," Andrus said.

Andrus fought to bring her son back to a safe home. Now, she advocates for other parents in similar situations through the new Peer Parenting Program.

"You can't want it for them, even though you do, they have to want it themselves," Andrus said.

Judge Frank Sullivan hears abuse and neglect cases day after day. He says this is a mentoring program southern Nevada has needed for years.

"The whole goal is to get the family engaged. And they come in the system with some issues and the sooner we get them actively engaged, the sooner we can get the children reunified with their parents," Judge Sullivan said.

Judge Sullivan says the mentors trust the parents because they've had the exact same experience.

"That gives them instant credibility with their clients. They can sit there and say, 'you don't know what I'm going through,' Yeah, they do know what they're going through," Sullivan said.

Peer parent Nicole Huber uses a no-nonsense approach with the 15 to 20 families she is assigned. It took years to get her own kids back.

"It wouldn't have taken me that long, if I had had a peer parent," Huber said.

The mother of three beat drugs and knows it takes lots of work to be reunited with your children.

"No beating around the bush. This is serious. This is your life," Huber said.

Peer parents offer new families in the system support, guidance and counseling in the hope of keeping them out of court and safely at home.

Not all parents charged with abuse or neglect get to be a part of this program. Parents have to show a willingness to make a safe home for their kids and change bad habits that landed them in court in the first place.

Parents are typically in the program for up to year and are monitored by protective services throughout the process.

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