When a child enters foster care, the court begins a process called “permanency planning.” This plan involves assessing a child’s situation, identifying their best interest, and preparing a plan for their future. At the outset of most cases, the preferred goal is to reunify a child with their parents or family or origin, and the permanency plan for the case is set as reunification. To achieve this, the court provides parents or caregivers with services or resources they may need to eventually regain custody of their child or children.
In this situation, it is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer’s role to get to know as much as they can about the child’s situation, observe and listen to the child as they interact with or talk about their relationship with their family, and help to keep the focus on the best interest of the child. In recognizing the month of June as National Reunification Month, this week’s “Inspiring CASAs” story features CASA Jill and her case youth, “Angel.”*
CASA Jill was paired with 11-year-old Angel after he had been taken from his home, where he was exposed to domestic abuse, neglect, and his parents’ use of drugs. Angel’s parents eventually agreed to participate in the reunification services provided by the court. As a dependent of the court, Angel was placed with his young adult older brother, “Mario.”*
During this time of uncertainty in Angel’s life, CASA Jill took it upon herself to provide the consistency and encouragement he had been lacking. She began volunteering weekly in Angel’s classroom and was able to keep an eye not only on his academics, but on his interactions with his peers and teacher. CASA Jill’s frequent visits made it easier for Angel to warm up to her, and he made it clear that he appreciated her presence at his school. CASA Jill also offered support to Mario, who was learning to be a caretaker for his younger brother, Angel, while still figuring out adulthood. She admired Mario for providing Angel with unconditional support and love throughout this difficult time.
Despite the boys’ parents being guarded and unreceptive at the start of the case, CASA Jill was happy to see them eventually open up and evolve as they engaged in their reunification services. By the end of the case, the family was able to come together and thrive, and the case ended in successful reunification.
In response to Angel’s case, Jill remarked, “You don’t [yet] know when you’re in training how incredibly impactful you are going to be in the life of this person.” Thanks to Jill’s support, Angel was able to have an advocate in his corner and return to a safe, stable home.
Like CASA Jill, you can impact the life of a foster youth in need. To learn how to become a CASA volunteer, sign up for an online Volunteer Information Session today.
*Names and other identifying features have been changed to protect confidentiality