Interview by Amanda Long
Child care and education weren’t even part of the plan until I had my son, Zeplyn. I started looking for child care so I could go back to work as an accountant. We went through seven providers in three months! It was a nightmare. I was crying every night. I was angry; I was confused. I was mad. Why was this happening to our son? And that’s when I heard it: This still, small voice — I heard it so clear — said, “Because I want you to do it better.”
I quit my job, got the training and started offering child care in our home. Even then, I had a vision to get to as many children as possible. Whenever you go through pain and adversity, it’s not just for you. You learn the lesson to make it better for others. So, that’s what I set out to do — in a big way. I had a 30-page parents handbook and one parent! I had an employee handbook and no employees! But sitting in my living room, with just my son and his friend, Jordan, I knew in my gut that I was going to help as many families as I could.
I’m not an actor; I’m an educator. I’m not going to scream over the table and play up the drama. There’s enough of that. I told Lifetime that my mother did not raise me like that. They told me, “We just want you to be you.” The kids know I’m real. Kids will call you out in a minute if they think you’re faking it. I go in [to each family’s home] with no judgment. I’m there to investigate and fix. I want these families to come together, get it together and, most importantly, stay together.
What you see on TV is the devastation, the chaos. I’m there for a week in the thick of it. But I’ve always been the person who sees the silver lining, the rainbows, the way out. One boy, Gavin, told his mother he wanted her to “die in a ditch.” You don’t fix that in 45 minutes. It’s hard work, and a lot of times people don’t want to go through that. They may say they want what’s best for their kids — and every single parent does — but doing the work isn’t easy. You have to get into the mess of things. I don’t take any of the hollering personally. I know Mom doesn’t want me there at first, sometimes. She doesn’t want me telling her she’s wrong. I have to convince her that I love her. I love these families. I know people toss around that word, but if this show has taught me anything, it’s that we have to love people through the mess. I tell these families that the reason there’s a show is because Lifetime needs it — but for me, it’s not a show. It’s a life.