A family of 3 young children and mother were staying in an overflow shelter in Vancouver when Children’s Protective Services was notified in January 2008 of alleged neglect, including serious dental and health concerns. Additionally, the mother was not responsive to her children and was leaving them with strangers. At a meeting with the child-welfare worker, the mother reported she no longer wanted to care for her children and that the father was unaware of the children’s location or condition. The children were taken into state care, and a legal petition was filed to make them wards of the Court. The mom got an Attorney. The ywca’s CASA Program was appointed as the children’s Court-Appointed Special Advocate and CASA Volunteer, Barbara N. chose to take this case.
For more than a year, Barbara was involved with meetings and Court hearings; she visited the children and observed visits between the mom and children. When the mom showed up, Barbara encouraged her to get into services as she was concerned whether mom had the capability to parent. Barbara also searched for the fathers. Child welfare hadn’t the time or resources, but Barbara followed lead after lead. She found the biological father for 2 of the children, and he soon moved to Vancouver to seek a job, services, and to work toward being reunited with his children. Barbara met periodically with him and also encouraged him to be successful even when child welfare didn’t always see the father as an option. She observed visits and checked on how the dad and the mom were doing with services. The mom was unable to follow through. The dad did very well. Courts have historically been reluctant to have a single father parent small children, but Barbara had confidence this dad could do it. She fought to have increased and overnight visits and then recommended the children go home to their father. She and child welfare would monitor for at least 6 months. The Court placed the children with the father in the spring of 2009.
By fall 2009, this family was reaching normalcy. ‘Alley’ is a now a 5-year-old. She is out going and has begun kindergarten. She’s developed a close bond with her siblings and loves her father. Her shots are up to date, and developmentally, she is growing in all aspects. Her father maintains her hygiene and she looks real happy. ‘Eadie’ is a 2½ -year-old little girl with an attitude. Since her return to her father she has developed a strong bond with her older sister, Alley. It is clear that they are happy to be together. She enjoys daycare while Dad studies computer science full time at Clark College. ‘Ned’ is now 8-years old and in third grade. When he began school he was behind but he has worked hard and is closing that gap. He’s able to make friends and he seems to enjoy school. Ned has gone from being the substitute adult in the family to being a normal and healthy eight-year-old. The father has grown in many ways. He has learned to take advice and criticism, and is devoted to obtaining an education after realizing that he is unable to support his family without an education.
By January 2010, Barbara had visited the dad’s home many times both announced and unannounced. He is calm, loving and caring, and he never raised his voice during her visits to their home. He is very attentive to his children and his discipline seems appropriate and he follows through. Barbara talks to school, daycare and dad’s service providers, as well as child welfare workers. All has gone well since the placement with this father. The children are thriving. The mother is sporadic with her visits and stability. Dad has gotten custody in Family Court and the mother’s visits will be supervised. Barbara feels confident to recommend that this Court case be dismissed. She feels good about her efforts to find a missing father, encourage his participation, monitor his accountability and ability to parent, and about her hours of time donated to monitor the case. She has watched these scared and deprived children become healthy and growing members of our community with a parent who can support them.
All ywca programs—like the CASA Program—need community support now more than ever. Please consider volunteering at ywca clark county today.