I cannot go into the details, but there has been a lot of activity happening on my CASA kid’s case. For the record, these are activities that are in her best interest and we’ve done our best to help her be part of the process. That way she is engaged and can feel empowered to be successful. I am spending a large amount of my time reading emails, taking notes, asking questions and documenting next steps with my CASA team.
Four brothers, Jacob (age 7), Chris (age 6), Kyle (age 3) and Brandon (age 1), were removed from their home due to severe physical abuse and neglect. Kyle and Brandon were adopted soon after by their foster parents. But the two older brothers spent many years in and out of their father’s home and moving between multiple foster placements.
This week is my “CASA heavy” week with emails to caseworkers, therapists, foster parents and my CASA team. And, I have a court report due. Because I also get to visit with my CASA kid, it’s one of my favorite weeks.
After four years in foster care, Angela (age 8) and Rebecca (age 6) have been adopted by their foster parents. It was a long road for these sisters…2 Judges, 6 DHS case workers, 3 counselors, 5 addresses, 2 churches, 3 schools, 6 teachers, 4 doctors, 2 dentists…and 1 CASA volunteer. Michael, the CASA volunteer, knew Angela and Rebecca better than anyone else on the case. He would visit with them weekly, and would attend their birthday parties and graduations. When he came to visit they would run up to greet him saying, “He’s my CASA!”
Technically, “PC” means Peer Coordinator, but when it comes to Helen Lucas, this volunteer position is embraced with the enthusiasm of a fan-filled World Cup stadium so “cheerleader” is a much better fit. I feel very fortunate to be on her team. Her guidance and support is key in my ability to be a successful CASA volunteer.
For Jessica, life has been a struggle. Dreaming about the future was not a luxury she could afford. Survival was her reality. After being removed from her abusive home, she lived in 6 different foster homes in just 2 years. Nearly every move involved changing schools. With each school transfer, she fell further behind in academics. Especially challenging for her were math and science. With high school approaching, concern grew that she may not even graduate.
When my role as a CASA volunteer comes up in discussions, people are quick to share the reasons they cannot be advocates for children in foster care. We fear committing more to our already busy schedules, or becoming too attached to the child, or for our physical, and/or emotional safety. They remind me of characters from Winnie the Pooh:
Michael (7 years old) was removed from his parents’ home when police found visible injuries on his neck, face and body. He reported that the injuries were caused by his stepfather. Michael’s mother and stepfather insisted that Michael had harmed himself, but the physician who examined Michael said that was impossible.