In Florida, approximately 231,000 children live with relatives that are not their parents.
For various reasons, from drug addiction to abuse, neglect, or even death, these children are left to grow up without their parents. However, the relatives who step up to take in their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and siblings often do so selflessly and without a second thought.
Bay Area Legal Services helped Tonya and Tasha Parker, who were just 21 and 23 years old when their mother suddenly passed away, leaving them to navigate early adulthood without their matriarch and mentor. Not only did this loss shake their reality, but it also left their three younger siblings—Tiffany, Jarod, and Jamal—without a caregiver.
Despite their young age, career goals, financial stress, and a natural yearning for independence, the sisters didn’t think twice about taking them in. Tonya and Tasha knew they were the only hope for these young children. However, they lacked the necessary legal custody to care for their siblings’ basic needs—such as enrolling them in school or scheduling medical appointments—and they certainly didn’t have the means to hire an attorney.
Tonya and Tasha were referred to Bay Area Legal Services, where they met attorney Laura Ankenbruck. Laura helped the sisters become proud legal custodians of their siblings, providing them with the necessary assistance and referrals to help answer the flood of questions and concerns one has when taking in a child.