Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hannah's Story - Volunteer Opportunities with Dallas CASA

Hannah's mother was so addicted to crack cocaine that she frequently turned tricks to support her drug habit.
 
Hannah and her three siblings also were exposed to the many men their mother brought into their home. Child Protective Services removed the children from their mother's care and sent them to live with their grandmother. The grandmother soon found that she could not care for all four children and asked that two of the children be taken into foster care.

CASA volunteers Stacy and Kelly were appointed to the case. Shortly afterward, Mom completed all of her court-ordered services and the children were returned to her home. Because of Mom's history with drugs and prostitution, CPS and CASA agreed to allow the children to go home under a monitored return.

By carefully observing the family, Stacy and Kelly discovered that the children were not attending school or being supervised appropriately. It wasn't long before Mom again tested positive for crack cocaine. Stacy and Kelly recommended that the children be permanently removed from her home.  They then found family members to care for all four siblings.

Through three years of upheaval and transition -- consisting of multiple attorneys, CPS caseworkers, foster homes and therapy sessions -- Stacy and Kelly were the only constant presence in the children's lives. Every time they moved, Stacy and Kelly were there to help them enroll in a new school and ensure that their needs were met, such as making sure they received therapy crucial to their healing.

Today, the two oldest children are living with their grandmother while the younger siblings live with an aunt who lives nearby. They get to see each other often and remain connected as a family. The families keep in touch with their CASA volunteers who frequently receive photos and email updates about the children's new lives. 

On an average day in Dallas County, more than 2,000 abused and neglected children live in foster care because they cannot live safely at home. These children need powerful voices to speak for them. Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a non-profit organization of volunteers who are voices for abused children in court. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in protective care.

Dallas CASA is accepting applications for our January and February volunteer training sessions. The first step toward becoming a CASA volunteer is attending a new volunteer information session. Register online here: http://www.dallascasa.org/how-to-volunteer/become-a-volunteer-advocate.html

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