Jennifer Ross, a PCAP case manager for Sound Pathways, speaks with a client in the client’s home on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jennifer Ross, a PCAP case manager for Sound Pathways, speaks with a client in the client’s home on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

‘I did get better’: Program helped Everett mother reunite her family

Jennifer Ross, a case manager with UW’s Parent Child-Assistance Program, made a big difference for Ashley Kozachenko.

EVERETT — For a long time, Ashley Kozachenko’s life was about survival.

Kozachenko, 36, spent much of her childhood in foster care in Oregon. Police removed her and her brother from one of the homes because of abuse, she said.

She went to two more foster homes before moving to Seattle to live with her birth mom.

In Washington, Kozachenko dropped out of high school in 11th grade.

“I had a lot of anger inside me” from the abuse and lack of stability, she said.

She lived with her birth mom for about four months, then “bounced around a lot,” she said. At 21, she gave birth to her first son.

In her mid-20s, Kozachenko wound up in the hospital for a major surgery. There, she was put on Dilaudid and fentanyl to manage pain as she recovered. After she checked herself out, her doctor continued prescribing oxycodone for more than two years.

Without the pills, Kozachenko would feel sick, a symptom she assumed was lingering pain from the operation.

She thought she was doing what the doctors told her to do.

“I was very naive,” she said.

When her doctor abruptly stopped prescribing the drug, Kozachenko started buying pills on the street. But they were expensive, up to $2 a milligram. Kozachenko was used to taking 30 milligrams every two to four hours.

After a while, the pain pills turned to heroin. During her addiction, Kozachenko also used meth and Xanax.

She and her son quickly became homeless. They lived in a house under construction, couch-surfed and stayed in “countless motels, abandoned homes and cold garages.” Later, they lived in her car.

When her son was 8 years old, authorities took him away. He was placed into foster care, then went to live with his dad.

“Nobody told me what to do” when he was taken, Kozachenko said. She fell further into her addiction. Her son was her “reason for living and surviving.”

“I had nothing to live for,” she said.

Kozachenko finally got treatment when she was pregnant with her second child. A social worker helped her apply for insurance during a hospital visit for abscesses caused by heroin use.

By that point, she had met her current partner. They have now been together 10 years.

She entered an addiction recovery program for pregnant women at Swedish Health Services twice. The first time was during that pregnancy. After a relapse, she went back during a subsequent pregnancy. Thanks to Catholic Community Services, she and her partner got housing.

In January 2020, Kozachenko enrolled in the University of Washington’s Parent-Child Assistance Program. She found out about the program while in treatment at Swedish. It’s designed for mothers who abuse drugs during pregnancy. Women can be eligible for the program for two years after giving birth.

After lockdown began, “I just stopped hearing anything from PCAP, really,” she said.

Her case managers switched a number of times. Different managers reached out more than others.

Everything changed when Jennifer Ross took her on as a client.

Before Ross, Kozachenko had only had two or three visits with her oldest son.

“She made a couple phone calls to his biological dad,” she said. “And next thing I know, his dad was calling me and working out a visiting plan.”

Her oldest son has now stayed with her for weeks at a time. Talking about it makes Kozachenko choke up.

“I can’t even tell you how much it meant to me to sleep under the roof with all three of my babies,” Kozachenko said. “It was such a healing and beautiful moment for me. And (Ross) helped make that possible.”

Ross offered other support. Kozachenko and her partner had accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt from tickets while living in their car. Ross gave them advice about where to go from there and helped them contact courthouses and collection agencies to ask them to reduce the cost. They ended up getting a few thousand dollars shaved off their debt.

Ross gave Kozachenko encouragement she’d been lacking up to that point.

“She’s never treated me like that drug addict,” Kozachenko said. “She’s always, from the day I met her, made me feel like I’m a human being.”

Even though Kozachenko’s now graduated from the three-year program, Ross stays in touch. She continues to give advice and emotional support through new issues that have come up.

Kozachenko is proud of how far she and her family have come. They now live in a house in the Silver Firs neighborhood south of Everett.

Ross has “helped me see that I have done this,” Kozachenko said. “I’m the one that chose to get better. And I did get better.”

Sophia Gates: 425-339-3035; sophia.gates@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @SophiaSGates.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

A closing sign hangs above the entrance of the Big Lots at Evergreen and Madison on Monday, July 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Big Lots announces it will shutter Everett and Lynnwood stores

The Marysville store will remain open for now. The retailer reported declining sales in the first quarter of the year.

President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr  to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman of supervision. The selection of Barr comes after Biden's first choice for the Fed post, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington Democrats voice support for Biden’s decision to drop out of presidential race

Some quickly endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ballot.

Everett
Teenager in stable condition after Everett drive-by shooting Saturday

Major Crime Unit detectives were looking for two suspects believed to have shot the teenager in the 600 block of 124th Street SW.

Miners Complex tops 500 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Nine lightning-caused fires force trail closures and warnings 21 miles east of Darrington. No homes are threatened.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.