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Beth Wilkinson became her dying father’s main caregiver at age 16, so she had to grow up fast.

“I was working, paying bills, going to school and taking care of my dad,” said the Plainfield resident, who is now 23. “I ended up dropping out of high school four months before I was supposed to graduate.”

Last year, Wilkinson earned her General Educational Development diploma, one of the positive steps she has taken to turn her life around after her father’s death two years ago and a slide into drug addiction, an abusive relationship with a previous boyfriend and an arrest for driving her brother away from a bank he’d just robbed. But finding her way to the kind of counseling services that worked for her as a young adult, she said, wasn’t easy.

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