After Tiffany suffered abuse at the hands of a family member as a child, her once-happy life was never the same. When she turned 15, she started using methamphetamine with her boyfriend, who physically abused her daily. A vicious cycle soon began, and she felt powerless to find a way out of it.

Tiffany’s world turned upside after she turned 30. That’s when the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) stepped in and took custody of her six children.

“At that point, I was scared,” Tiffany says. “They gave me an evaluation and said that I should go to Iowa Family Works because it’s a good program.”

Tiffany’s counselor worked closely with her to help her address her childhood trauma and to help her overcome her struggles with substance abuse. During that time, she thought of her children’s sweet faces and smiles and knew they desperately missed her. She worried about the long-term effects the separation would have on them.

Eventually, DHS allowed some of her children to stay with her at Iowa Family Works while she improved herself by working her way through the program. Soon after, four of her children started counseling at the Heartland Family Service Child & Family Center in Iowa.

As Tiffany felt better, learned new coping skills, and made progress, so did her children. “They have learned to talk more because I never talked about my problems,” Tiffany says. “I was one to bottle it in, and so are they. They’re learning to communicate better.”

Tiffany also learned the importance of establishing positive relationships. She no longer has contact with her previous boyfriend and is now in a healthy and loving relationship. She also became best friends with another mom at Iowa Family Works.

“My kids had never really seen me sober until we all came back home,” Tiffany states. “I’m going to have triggers the rest of my life. But I know how to work through them now. If it wasn’t for Heartland, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”