Friday, November 22, 2013

Change a child's life for good - support CASA

While many local foster children have yet to find permanent families who will raise them in a safe and secure home, there are also many foster youth who are thriving and have found a loving home. CASA volunteers are instrumental in finding forever families for these deserving foster children and this holiday season CASA celebrates these successes.  I would like to share with you the story of one CASA volunteer who advocated for an infant, Jenny**.  Jenny was born premature and drug-exposed and was living with her mother while her father was serving a prison sentence. Her mother regularly visited her husband in
prison, bringing Jenny with her. She thought that because she was holding a baby when entering the prison facility, she would not be searched. But she was searched and arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into the prison.

Her mother’s arrest left Jenny, now six months old, in need of foster care and she was placed in a fost/adopt* home with Kate. ** Jenny began to thrive and bonded with Kate while Kate grew very attached to Jenny.  Because research shows that children do best when reunited with family if that can be done safely, Child Welfare Services began to search for a placement for Jenny with family.  This is when Linda** was assigned as Jenny’s CASA volunteer advocate. Linda immediately began her advocacy for Jenny.  She met with numerous relatives who had expressed interest in Jenny’s welfare, gathered information and monitored Jenny’s progress in foster care.

While Jenny had regular, supervised visits with her birth mother, her mother lost custody of her other children due to abuse and gave birth to another child. This new baby disappeared and was presumed to be with family members. Visits between Jenny and her mother were moved to a more secure location as social workers feared child abduction. Despite the turmoil and possible dangers with Jenny’s relatives, social workers continued to bring family members to meet her.  However, further investigation found that all but one relative had frightening criminal records. This relative was a distant, elderly cousin who was marginally employed and living in poverty. Linda’s observations of the cousin’s visits with Jenny and her interviews with the cousin revealed that this woman was completely overwhelmed with work and caring for other relatives’ children who had been placed in her care.

During this critical time Jenny’s CASA, Linda, became even more convinced that Jenny would only get the stability needed for a healthy life if she were adopted by her foster mother, Kate. Linda carefully  Jenny’s was a true success story.  She found a safe, loving and permanent home which every child deserves.
documented her findings and observations and presented them to the court. After two years as an advocate for Jenny, Linda’s dreams for Jenny were realized when the court finalized Jenny’s adoption
by Kate. Shortly after, Kate married her fiancé and Jenny moved to the Midwest with her new family.

Donations to CASA fund the training and supervision of volunteers who directly affect the outcome of the lives of children like Jenny. Please consider a donation today so that we can continue to serve more children. Any size gift helps. A donation of $125 will provide an advocate for a child for three weeks. A donation of $2,000 will support an advocate for one child for one year. These children need your help and deserve a loving home.

On behalf of CASA and the children we serve, please accept our wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.
With gratitude,

Teresa Tardiff
Executive Director

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