Kamillah and Casey have been involved with the Department of Children and Families for nearly a dozen years. Parental rights were terminated in 2009 following a lengthy history of abuse, medical neglect and poor supervision as a result of substance abuse. Sadly, Kamillah and Casey again became involved with DCF following the disruption of their adoption by their mother’s twin sister a handful of years later, also as a result of physical abuse, neglect and possible sexual abuse. Both children were removed from their family’s care and placed in congregate care settings in 2017. Although both children had experienced trauma and significant abuse and neglect for nearly their entire lives, Kamillah was just 13 and Casey was 9. Each was assigned a CASA in December 2018.
Following removal from their adoptive mother’s home, both children exhibited difficult behaviors and were eventually diagnosed with PTSD, among other emotional and psychological conditions. Fortunately, both children have been placed in positive structured settings which have provided both with stability, onsite therapeutic supports and consistency, and both have made significant progress in working through the trauma that they have experienced and in developing coping mechanisms. Perhaps most importantly for both children, their CASAs have been consistent in facilitating sibling visits. Both children are devoted to each other and share a very strong sibling bond. The siblings treasure their visits with each other because they are the only family each other has, and without each other, are essentially alone in this world. Kamillah, in particular, supports her younger brother, buys him gifts and regularly keeps in contact. Although the “lockdown” of programs forced by the pandemic has had an upside in offering both Kamillah and Casey focused opportunity to engage in therapy and new activities (Kamillah is learning to crochet), it has made visits between the two difficult, as the virtual setting is not ideal for Casey. Both CASAs hope to resume sibling visits as things begin to open and hopefully return to a more normal environment.
The consistency offered by their CASAs to these youth who have experienced tremendous trauma and instability in their young lives has helped both Kamillah and Casey to achieve great progress in their emotional stability, education and ability to express their feelings. Kamillah has agreed to begin classes at a public high school, which is a huge step for her as she had been reluctant to leave the structure and comfort of her group home setting. She has indicated that she is looking forward to participating in school activities, including sports programs if they resume this school year. She has been deemed to be ready for a step down to an intensive foster care setting in preparation for an independent living arrangement if a permanent resource cannot be found for her. Casey has made tremendous progress in school, and perhaps most importantly, in developing attachments to others and expressing his feelings. His CASA was elated when Casey told him on a recent socially distant visit that, “he really appreciates the support that [his CASA] has shown him over the last year… [his CASA] means a lot to him.” Casey’s ability to express affection is a major step and represents tremendous progress.
Both CASAs are extremely pleased and grateful to be a part of the journey of these amazing young people and to witness the incredible progress they have both made. They cannot wait to see what is ahead for these remarkable young people!