PLE Perspective: Leila Lawrence

As a youth experiencing homelessness, Leila has lived a life that many can only imagine. Her path to homelessness started with being placed in foster care as a child. Separated from her brother, Leila lived with several foster caretakers who couldn’t provide the support she needed to reach her full potential. When the chance to reunite with her brother in the same home came, she jumped at the opportunity to be a family again, only to experience abuse from her new caretaker.

After being removed from the home with her brother, Leila worked with mental health care specialists to navigate the trauma she experienced in foster care. She moved into a home with a new caretaker, but continued to grapple with her past experiences until she ran away to the streets. Her experiences as an unsheltered youth proved to be equally challenging: she got involved with trafficking to live day-to-day and was exposed to drugs. Rehab was a safe haven from the drugs and trafficking, but she continued to find challenges toward stability.

Leila moved in and out of youth facilities and, often times, continued to return to unsheltered homelessness while she tried to find her way. She often spent her days sleeping on MARTA trains or at bus stops, so she could remain up during nights on the streets of the Atlanta. When she became pregnant with her first child, she knew things had to change.

Leila was connected to Covenant House’s parenting youth program and began working with Jackie Nickens on a new path to stability. Since enrolling in the program, Leila has earned her GED, got her learner’s permit, and has developed employment skills that have aided her in starting her new job at the Atlanta Airport. With the guidance and support of Covenant House, Leila is preparing to move into a new a new home and start a new chapter of her life with her growing family.

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