Single father Dustin finds the foundation for his family

Dustin, a 25-year-old single father, is playing with his children, Natalie and Dominic, at the playground near their home.

“Every day is a better and better experience with them. They give me that emotional security,” he says. “That love that I thought I lost.”

Dustin grew up in and out of the foster care system as a child. He moved out on his own at 16, was married at 20 and they had their first child together.

“It was definitely difficult being that young and having a kid,” he remembers. And having their second child at 21 only made it harder.

Dustin was working while studying to become an electrician. His wife stayed home with Natalie and Dominic. They began fighting constantly and Dustin resorted to drinking to deal with their marital issues. When his wife left him and took the kids, he realized he needed to quit drinking. “I knew that I needed to change myself in order to get my kids back.”

Dustin got the help he needed to quit drinking but still wasn’t able to see his children. – then, one day, he got a terrifying phone call.

“Child and Family Services is trying to get a hold of you,” his aunt told him. His wife had left Natalie and Dominic there, unable to take care of them any longer.

Dustin got a lawyer and began the process to earn guardianship of his kids. “I was hurt and scared, thinking I could lose them for the rest of my life.”

He dropped everything in order to fight for them. For the next year-and-a-half, he attended counselling, addiction education programs, parenting programs – and, over time, he was awarded more and more time with his kids. But one of the requirements for getting them back full-time was a permanent home. With all the programs and increasing time he was getting with Natalie and Dominic, he barely had time to work.

Through CUPS, they were able to secure an affordable apartment with Calgary Homeless Foundation. Dustin received permanent guardianship and now they are together full-time, working through the trauma they went through.

“A home is the foundation of your family. It’s everything to a child,” Dustin says. “It gives them a sense of security and belonging. Having them back is pure joy.”

A home is the foundation of your family. It’s everything to a child.