An at-risk teen is safe today because a team of professionals came together to rescue her from a scary situation 1,300 miles away, in the middle of a pandemic.

In late April, Sarah Markan-Sayar, Vice President of Operating Services at Family Support Services, received a call about a young runaway who’d made her way to Texas. The teen had family there, but was being transported back to Jacksonville when her family would not agree to a home study, in order to take the girl in. Concern over the stress and trauma the girl may have been exposed to, with social distancing and required COVID-19 testing, Sarah contacted Tim Decker at Daniel, who informed her that Family Services Counselor Tiyana Cohen, , was en route to Texas to ensure the girl’s safe return with minimized trauma.

While Tiyana offered assurance while in flight, Sarah worked to remove roadblocks on the ground. She expedited Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) transportation and arranged for a less visible route out of Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) to help the girl avoid public humiliation, coronavirus testing and judiciary orders.

Without this intervention, the teen could easily have been treated like a criminal, adding stress and trauma to an already troubled life.

Nearly a dozen organizations and individuals (FSS, Daniel Kids, Partnership for Child Health, Dr. Goldhagen with UF Health-Pediatrics, JSO, Children’s Legal Services, airport security, Department of Juvenile Justice, Juvenile Assessment Center, First Coast Behavioral Health, and Judge David Gooding) corralled their efforts, time, resources and relationships to support one young girl.

This is one of many stories that demonstrates why community-based care (CBC) in Duval and Nassau counties brings resources and expertise together to help real people facing real threats.