We often talk about the importance of CASA Advocates, but most times we are unable to fully describe a story and still maintain confidentiality. Brandi has been advocating for the same girl for 2 years, and even without disclosing details, it is clear how necessary Brandi is.
Nearly every CPS case includes the goal of reunification between biological parents and child. In this case, actions of the father that ultimately led to the removal were also the basis for the court-ordered termination of rights. The biological father then died unexpectedly within a month of this ruling. This young girl, traumatized both mentally and physically, basically lost her dad twice in one month. In the time since, she has lived in group foster homes and individual foster homes. Twice - twice - she has been told by individual fosters that they are going to move forward with adoption, only to change their minds at the last minute. Add to the equation that changing placement includes changing schools, losing friends, medications lapsed and familiarity lost. So much chaos and uncertainty; broken promises and lost hope.
But Brandi has been there through it all.
It has been Brandi that has fiercely fought to keep this now 11 year old close to Amarillo. It is Brandi who has been the constant - the one person who continually reminds this sweet girl of her value, and her beauty and her worth. It is Brandi who has been there to celebrate the good and wipe tears after the bad. It is Brandi who reminds this girl to keep dancing long after the music has faded.
This CASA kiddo will find her forever family. Brandi will see to it.
Thank you, Brandi, for restoring faith and hope in a young life, and for being an incredible example of the importance of CASA advocacy.
Jim began his CASA journey in 2012 and has had incredible influence over the kiddos on his cases since. One current case involves a young man who just turned 17 and has spent a heartbreaking 13 years in care. This teen is currently living in a residential treatment center with a very strict and regimented daily schedule. He has lived there long enough that, before meeting Jim, this young man considered himself institutionalized. He had no confidence in his future or his ability to act on his own as adult. In the RTC environment, all decisions are made by staff members, failures are expected, and the days blur one into the other. Until, that is, Jim took on the case.
As a seasoned CASA advocate and retired educator, Jim has worked patiently with his CASA teen. He built a relationship based on trust and mutual respect, he genuinely listens to the young man's concerns, ideas, hopes and goals, and maybe most importantly, Jim is teaching his kiddo to believe in himself. Over time the young man has expressed an interest in culinary arts, and Jim has researched and located a school that will not only provide trade instruction, but also assist with basic life skills that have been passed over during his years in the RTC.
With Jim's determination and mentorship, the sky is the limit for this teen. This case is a perfect example of how one person, one CASA volunteer, can turn a sad statistic into a success.
Thank you, Jim, for your years of service, and for never giving up on your kiddos. Congratulations!