For Jessica, life has been a struggle. Dreaming about the future was not a luxury…
Samantha (age 2) and Owen (age 4) were taken into foster care because of drug abuse, child endangerment, and their parents’ mental health issues.
Liz, their CASA volunteer, knew one of her most important jobs was to make a connection with the children. Owen, who had extreme difficulty attaching to anyone because of his past, enjoyed having Liz sit in class with him. She visited him at Head Start classes, then in Kindergarten, then first grade. One day, on the playground, Owen came running over to her, threw his arms up toward her, and said, “You’re here!” He proudly told his classmates, “She’s my CASA, and she helps me sometimes.” Liz was happy to see that her continual presence had helped Owen to conquer his attachment disorder.
Liz began to feel that things in the foster home were not right. Samantha one day revealed to Liz that she was not happy in her home. Liz decided to pay a surprise visit. She arrived as Owen got off the bus from school. No one was home, the door was locked, and when they got inside, the home was dirty and unsafe. She reported her findings immediately to the case worker. DHS closed the home and moved the children.
Samantha and Owen have now been adopted, and they could not be in a better place. Liz participated in the adoption committee – one of the roles a CASA volunteer plays – and was strongly in favor of the adoptive family. After three years in foster care, the children are finally in a safe, permanent, loving home.
Liz says that being a CASA volunteer reminds her of the story of the starfish. As the story goes, an elderly gentleman was walking along the beach, and saw a boy picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water. The man said, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
The boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” The elderly man said, “But do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The boy listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean and said, “I made a difference for that one.”
NOTE: Samantha & Owen’s story is real, but their names and picture have been changed to protect their identities.