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'Family Transformations' helps families work toward reunification in safe, comfortable setting

Family Transformations is a parent aid agency
Transformation Visitation Home
Transformation Visitation Home
Posted at 4:08 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 13:05:17-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lacey Williams, 33, made a big transformation in her life. She had lost custody of her children and was on the verge of losing her youngest, three-year-old Serenity, about two years ago.

"I didn't know for a long time if I was going to be able to get it together, but there was something in me that kept telling me to fight," Williams said.

Williams struggled with heavy drug addiction for most of her life. Her baby Serenity was taken away from her when she was six-months-old.

She turned to Family Transformations, a parent aid agency, to help in her fight. Williams was homeless and still struggling with her addiction at the time.

Williams finally got into Hope City's addiction treatment program, where she found healing and strength over the next six months.

At the time, Williams and Family Transformations were meeting at McDonald's or a park for her supervised visits.

There, Williams said all eyes were on her.

"You feel different internally because you're always wondering what is she writing, what's she doing," Williams said.

41 Action News met with Williams at Family Transformation's new Transformation Visitation Home, which serves as a place for parents who want to build their lives and their families back together.

"Here at a house where you can just let your guard down and be comfortable and truly connect with your child, I think, I know is a game changer," Williams said.

The visitation home is an answer to a prayer for founder Colleen Huff.

"I just saw there was such a deficit in seeing these families reunify because of the limited amount of time they get," Huff said. "By having a facility like this, I'm able to observe the parent cooking, doing dishes, multitasking involving the children, doing crafts, playing games, just sitting snuggling reading a book."

Huff runs Family Transformations. She and her parent aids help parents who are going through a variety of issues like drug addiction, mental health problems, and domestic violence.

Huff said these issues affect everyone and they do not discriminate.

The pandemic lit a fire in Huff to make the visitation home a reality.

"Some of these parents, they were forced to just do virtual visits," Huff said. "That's no touching, no bonding, especially for babies who need that touch."

The home opened a couple months ago. It has a living room full of toys, a dining room, a kitchen, a nap/changing room. It looks just like any other house, which is the key.

Other services provided include parent aid, parenting classes, and nutrition and safety classes.

At Family Transformations, aid agency has multiple steps before reunification among a family.

First, the parent will do supervised visits, where they will engage with their child for two hours while the aid observes and takes notes. The visits are usually around two hours.

Then, the parent will progress to 'sandwich' visits, where the aid will leave for a short period of time, come back, and note how everything went.

Next are unsupervised visits, which leads to an overnight visit, then finally full reunification without the state involved.

All of Family Transformation's cases come from the state children's division.

The agency facilitates full reunifications nearly every week and the hope is that this house will help even more families.

"The goal is for homes in every part of the city," Huff said.

Williams is a manager now. She has a house, where she and Serenity live. She has a car. She has a renewed passion for life and her children.

"I pray for every one of the parents that will walk through these doors, that it gives them a whole other kind of comfort. This is a beautiful thing, this is a beautiful place," Williams said.

Family Transformations is raising money to fund the utilities for the Visitation Home, which is about $600 a month.

They are working on a GoFundMe page but people can donate on its website in the meantime.