The Heart of CASA: January 2023
The Heart of CASA is a series to highlight the aspects of our volunteer work. Advocacy for a child in care covers several activities from court hearings to visits with a child to conversations with parents. Each month, we’ll share a story of a small (or big!) moment from one of our cases that exemplifies what advocacy can mean to a child and their families.
Connection to resources
A single mom worked all her services. Sober and healthy, Gail* was ready for her two children to return home. Her kids wanted to be home. The CPS permanency goal was reunification with mom, and the CASA Advocate for the children agreed.
Yet she didn’t have a safe, stable home for the children to live. While Gail worked her services, she kept running into barriers while trying to find housing.
Establishing a safe home can be one of the toughest hurdles for parents who do not have custody of their children. Rising costs of rent and housing shortages make it difficult for people across the country to find affordable places to live. The search is even more challenging for someone who has a history of substance abuse or criminal activity or does not have an established rental history.
Gail exhausted all avenues to find a home for herself and her children, Austin* and Denise*. She qualified for housing designated for low-income families and obtained a voucher. As she waited for a unit to become available, she continued to seek other options. She had a trailer, but it needed extensive work and Gail had no family members who could help her complete the repairs.
After a four-month search, she secured an apartment through the Montgomery County Housing Authority. She still needed to furnish the home, which is expensive and time-consuming, and set up utilities, requiring hefty deposits. Austin needed to be enrolled in elementary school, and Denise needed to be placed in daycare so that their mother could continue to work full-time.
CASA recognized that Gail needed some assistance in preparing her new home and knew just the right organization to call, its community partner, Second Chance Families. The founder, Collette, is a former Advocate. Working with parents who live in Montgomery County and are involved with the Department of Family and Protective Services, Second Chance helps families remain intact by assisting them in meeting the state’s guidelines.
To qualify for assistance, parents must have a letter from the CPS caseworker verifying that they’re working their services. CASA coordinated with CPS to get the letter to Second Chance, and CASA connected Gail with Collette at Second Chance.
A Second Chance
Second Chance assisted Gail with furniture and household goods so that she could move into her apartment and get it ready for the children to live with her. The nonprofit also paid her first electric bill and got a washer and dryer for the home. When she ran into an unexpected daycare fee for Denise, Second Chance covered the cost so Gail didn’t have to find the money on a tight budget. The new home was ready, and Gail and her children were more than ready to live together again as a family of three.
“It takes a village to help these families get back on their feet!” the Advocate on the case said. “I was blessed to work with a mom who was so motivated to create a healthy environment for her kids.”
Austin and Denise went home with their mom on a Friday afternoon. Gail continued to utilize the resources offered to her, including TBRI coaching at CASA. After a successful monitored return home period, the state closed the case, a family reunified. A few weeks later, a beautiful letter arrived at Second Chance Families from Gail. She recognized the nonprofit for its support in helping her to provide her kids with a safe, stable, and permanent home.
*Names changed for privacy
EVERY CHILD DESERVES A CHANCE … IT’S YOU!