CASA of the Month – February

Boston CASA is proud to showcase Marlowe as one of our veteran CASAs, serving youth for several years! Marlowe is passionate about advocating for the needs of each individual on his case and adept at knowing key questions to ask and truly learning about the circumstances of his youth. One of Marlowe’s strengths is that he understands the importance of creating open dialogues with all collaterals on his case.

Marlowe was assigned to his most recent case in June of last year and since then has been in constant communication with multiple parties to ensure that his youth is being seen and heard. Marlowe’s youth is a 13-year-old boy who has experienced many hardships in his young life. This youth first became involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in 2008 and has been in permanent custody of the Department since 2015. Due to the circumstances of his Care and Protection case and his ongoing mental health challenges, he has been placed in residential settings. Although this youth has an adoption goal, due to his mental health needs he is currently unable to be in a pre-adoptive home. Unfortunately, like many of the youth we serve, Marlowe’s youth does not have a family support network to rely on, and he has had many placement changes. The one family connection this youth has is his older sister who he is able to communicate with. Marlowe was able to support his youth’s sister in helping her visit her brother. The sister shared that she was thankful her brother had someone like Marlowe in his life.

When Marlowe first began on this case he was initially faced with a challenging barrier from the youth. The youth on his case had expressed some hesitancy in connecting with CASA, and outright shared that he did not want a Black man as his CASA. Although this youth is a person of color, he expressed that Black men have failed him in the past and he shared that he wanted to be adopted by a white family. Knowing this information shared by his youth, Marlowe was able to understand his youth’s trauma and separate his own feelings from the matter. Over time, Marlowe was able to build rapport and start earning the youth’s trust.

It is with great joy and enthusiasm to report that Marlowe is now the highlight of his youth’s day! Staff at the youth’s residential placement report that the youth looks forward to visits from Marlowe each time. The youth’s attorney has also reiterated in court how thankful she is to have a wonderful CASA on the case. The attorney has been on the case from the beginning and is now seeing her client have positive and memorable experiences. Marlow has taken his youth off campus on several occasions to go fishing, bike rides, and trick or treating during the Halloween season.

Part of a CASA’s role is to help advocate for a youth’s best interest, even when there are unexpected issues or barriers. Most recently, Marlow experienced advocating for his youth after the youth was hospitalized for acute mental health needs. Due to the severity of behaviors and needs of this youth, finding a stable placement has been an ongoing challenge. Although Massachusetts has a number of higher-level youth placements, youth’s need are sometimes so severe placements are unable to meet their needs.

When CASAs experience working on a high needs case involving multiple organizations, advocacy and knowing how to present information is key. Marlowe has done a fabulous job of attending pertinent meetings and providing collaterals with the CASA perspective in order to ensure his youth’s needs are met. When the youth on his case is experiencing a mental health crisis involving hospitalizations, he always reaches out and places a call to his CASA. Despite sometimes having to drive a long distance, Marlowe comes when he receives the call. Marlowe’s dedication and consistency in showing up for his youth has resulted in his youth reporting to caregivers that Marlow is someone who truly cares about him. Marlowe himself looks forward to daily calls from his youth and hopes to continue to bring him out for events in the community.

It is success stories such as these where we see hope in our youth and beauty in relationship building. Marlowe and Boston CASA hope that the relationship between youth and volunteer will set a precedent for this youth to build trust with other adults in his future.

WE cannot thank Marlowe enough for his years of service and dedication to the CASA program and every youth and family he serves.