The work of a CASA volunteer is not easy. Sometimes, it can even feel like pushing a boulder uphill. But when the boulder gets stuck, the CASA volunteer has the tools to look for a different route and steadily keep pushing. Because that volunteer may be the only constant force moving the boulder toward that critical outcome at the top – a healthy child in a safe and permanent home, as soon as possible.
For the past seven months, Mary has been the CASA volunteer for four siblings in foster care between the ages of 6 and 13. Each child has been moved as many as seven times, and the youngest has been in three different high-needs residential facilities. The children have had three different DHS Child Welfare caseworkers. The siblings came into care because their parents abused them physically and mentally, withheld food, and lived in unsanitary conditions. Now, trying to work through sadness and anger, the children act out aggressively toward each other to the point of threatening one another’s safety.
Mary has struggled to gain traction toward getting the boulder to the top of this hill. It took a great deal of advocacy to get the youngest child out of residential care, but Mary remained steady and persistent despite pushback from other people involved. The child has now been moved to a more appropriate, less restrictive setting. It has been difficult to get counseling services for the children that are adequate for their high level of need. Mary continues to advocate diligently for this, as well as for services the family members need to be safe and stable.
Mary has worked hard to build good rapport with the four kids. Although they don’t trust any adults, they will now share things with her that they won’t share with anyone else. She continues to gather information from everyone involved in the children’s life and consistently follow up on key issues with the caseworker.
The difference we make in the world may not always be clear. But when we keep pushing for what we know is right, change will come, slowly but surely. Mary will keep on pushing this boulder up the hill until these four children are in a safe, permanent home.
NOTE: The story of these children is real, but their picture have been changed to protect their identities.