Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Family Reunited

There are an astounding 624 children currently in the county’s foster care system. Our CASA program has only 134 volunteer advocates to support 368 children, and 9 Program Specialists to support 256 children. And, on average there are 35 new children who need advocates each month. With your support, we will be able to recruit, screen and train more volunteers and staff who can provide advocacy for our most vulnerable children.

CASA volunteers can attest to the poignant reality, sorrows, and joys of their critical involvement with the program. Take this account as told by a Clark County CASA volunteer, a story of persistence and transformation, as an example of the impact CASA has on the lives of children whom desperately need a voice:

The woman whose case I was assigned started out as a foster child herself. The family who adopted her from the system ultimately abandoned her. Unfortunately, as an adult she became involved in unsafe relationships that resulted in the birth of her son with a man who abused her and introduced drug experimentation, leading to her addiction. When Child Protective Services removed her son, she left her abuser, but was simultaneously experiencing emotional and physical abuse, addiction, untreated mental health diagnosis, and homelessness. The mother’s homelessness and drug addiction had control of her life for the first year of her dependency case.

The turning point was when she realized she had to get her life together in order to get her son back. She sought services at YWCA Clark County and accessed domestic violence support through our SafeChoice program. She eventually found housing, enrolled in parenting classes and continued her addiction treatment, all in an effort to provide a better life for her son.
Her case workers continually recognized what a strong woman she was and that nothing was going to stop her from gaining complete control over her life and be the best parent she could be. She applied for a Family Unification Program housing voucher and was denied but applied again and with over 10 supportive references from community members, was approved and would be moving her and her son to their own apartment.

I will never forget the first time I saw her and her son in their new home. She said for the first time in her life, she has her own place and gets to share it with her little boy! After six months of continued progress, growth, and success as a now single mom, her case was dismissed. She is two years clean and sober, found healing from her past, and felt empowered to handle the current and future challenges of raising a child on her own.

I collaborated with her attorney and independent social worker and ensured that the resources she needed to help with drug treatment, housing, critical medical, daycare, and educational services for her son. But most importantly, my conversations with her along her journey are what stick with me the most. She said people believing in her made it possible for her not to give up on herself.  

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to witness this incredible journey and that I had a small part in the creation of a brand new happy, healthy, and safe family.”
-Heather Redman, CASA Volunteer

YWCA Clark County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program operates on the principle that every child has the right to a safe, permanent, and loving home. When CASA volunteers are sworn-in by a Judge, they commit to representing the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. For many of these children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

The CASA volunteer speaks for the child in the courtroom and ensures they don’t get lost in the complicated legal and social service system. Due to the advocacy and services of YWCA Clark County CASA, recently twelve children returned to their homes, and four children were adopted or gained guardianship. Notwithstanding these accomplishments, Clark County’s CASA program is still lacking sufficient volunteers and staff to meet the growing needs of all children in foster care.

Please consider a gift that will help us raise vital funds for CASA to provide quality representation, like Heather, for all children in need of an advocate. Your support could save the life of a child. When you support CASA, YOU are an advocate for the children of Clark County. Please help us ensure sure that all the children in our community are safe and well-nurtured. Your donation will help make this happen.