Three-year old Emily was removed from her parents’ care after police found heroin, marijuana and glass drug pipes in her home and all within reach. Several mental health issues also disrupted the family. Once in foster care, Emily was assigned a CASA advocate. This volunteer took delight in advocating for Emily. A bright and energetic child, the two bonded and always enjoyed their visits together. Often they would play outdoors, do arts and crafts, or color in Emily’s favorite princess coloring book. During the case, the CASA advocate ensured Emily’s best interests were represented. When play therapy was ordered by the court, the volunteer ensured this service was initiated quickly by professionals and reported Emily’s progress. The CASA advocate also worked closely with Emily’s preschool to help her transition into a school setting, where she flourished. She also connected with the foster family, ensuring their access to community resources when available and sharing their commitment to the child with the judge. When the court decided that Emily could not return to her parents and their rights were terminated, she was adopted by this family. Today, Emily is happy and thriving, and is also enjoying the company of her new older sister.
Joseph tested positive for cocaine at birth. His birth mother acknowledged the use of drugs during the pregnancy and has continued to struggle with addiction. Her dependence meant she would leave Joseph without warning in the care of others for periods of time. This would eventually bring Joseph into foster care. Through several failed attempts to maintain sobriety and return to her son’s life, Joseph’s birth mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights. Thankfully, Joseph lived his foster care journey of 1,244 days in his very first foster home, now his forever home. He had also been assigned a CASA volunteer advocate. The CASA volunteer visited Joseph regularly, getting to know him and learning about him. His CASA was able to tell Joseph’s story to the court – That Joseph loves dinosaurs, and that as he’s grown, he’s begun to play basketball and has learned to swim. That he won an award for good behavior at preschool. That he and his adoptive mother have a strong attachment, and that she has his best interests at heart. That all resources have come together to support Joseph’s transition from foster care to adoption. Joseph is now thriving in elementary school. With a happy home and loving family, we know he will continue to thrive.
Lana was brought into care for abandonment, medical neglect, and inadequate housing. Her mother had relocated to a neighboring state and left Lana without supervision. Sixteen at the time, Lana had endured challenges with several untreated medical problems and had to be hospitalized for concerns of self-harm stemming from depression, anxiety and abandonment issues. A CASA advocate was assigned to Lana upon her entrance in foster care and began to encourage her to take control of her situation. This was all the more necessary, as Lana’s father was uninterested in his daughter; and therefore, not a placement option. Although Lana was unwilling to attend a regular high school, she agreed to the CASA advocate’s suggestion of online classes. In order to meet eligibility requirements for enrollment, Lana did need to complete two on-site classes, held daily at the high school. Hesitant and quite anxious, Lana agreed and began sharing her experiences with the CASA advocate. With this encouragement, proper medication and treatment, as well as counseling, Lana blossomed. In addition to the required classes, she eventually enrolled in ceramics, drawing, and film courses. She even attended the senior prom and participated in her high school graduation ceremony. Her CASA advocate continued to encourage Lana, and was instrumental in helping the teen establish goals for her future. This included helping her to map out plans for becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); and assisting Lana in correctly completing all necessary applications for financial aid and college enrollment. Before “aging out” of the foster care system, the CASA advocate also assisted Lana in identifying a positive support system. This includes extended family, former foster parents, and a former high school counselor with whom the teen now resides.