Robert Day doesn’t have an easy job. As a father engagement case manager on Children’s Bureau’s Connersville team, he says he has seen a lot. But it is transformations like Michael Tackett’s that keep him believing that anything is possible.
Michael had just completed rehab when Robert contacted him to discuss custody of his children. Erin, 16, and Michael Jr. (Mikey), 12, were living with their aunt after being removed from their mother’s care due to substance abuse.
“I was leery when I first met Robert,” Michael said. “I felt like, ‘Why is this my fault?’” After excessive missed appointments, Robert had no choice but to close Michael’s case and move on to other more hopeful ones. But, Michael’s son continued to receive counseling services through Children’s Bureau. “We see the heartache children endure when parents lose themselves to addiction,” Jenny McCarrell, Mikey’s case worker, said. “But he never lost faith in his dad,” she added.
Surrounded by officers of the court, Michael was told to step up, or his children would have no one. That’s when he called Robert. “I was given a second chance, and I didn’t want to lose it,” Michael said. “I finally realized I wasn’t chasing my kids; I was chasing their mother, and it was destroying my life.”
He and Robert got to work on a budget and scoured the town to find housing within his means. As he set up housekeeping and prepared for the kids to move in, Robert mentored him to be transparent with his children. “They need to understand that this isn’t going to be a joy ride; it’s life,” Robert explained. Together, the family is sticking to a budget but finding joy in the little things, like new recipes for family dinners.
Michael’s pride in his children shines through his reserved nature. He describes his daughter, Erin, as “16 going on 25.” He says she is a typical teen but with an old soul. Even through the upheaval of the past three years, she has excelled in school. She will graduate a year early and is already working toward the resources to attend college.
Mikey is heading to middle school. According to dad, he is the loveable entertainer of the family who sees the good in everything. “We work together as a team,” Michael says. “These kids keep me moving. They’re my everything. I no longer have a void in my heart.”