Investigations began when 7-year-old Andres was asked at school about the bump on his forehead and he replied that his mother had hit him. The family was not new to the Department of Children & Families (DCF). The mother had been involved with DCF decades earlier as an abused child herself. Andres had three older siblings who earlier had been in DCF custody and had been permanently adopted into other families. Andres, his 5-year-old brother, Daniel, and their 13-year-old sister slept together on one mattress in an apartment that police had searched for drug use among adults. Andres had a serious mobility issue, but his mother was not taking him to his medical appointments. The mother was determined not to be capable of taking care of the children, so Andres and Daniel were placed into foster care together. Their older sister was placed into another.
The court appointed Amy to be the CASA for the brothers. A second CASA was appointed for the sister. The boys moved out of the city, and one of Amy’s first duties was to help with medical and school records.
“It was very difficult to get updated records so the boys could receive appropriate services in their new schools and the ability to see medical specialists. It was quite involved. I was glad to do it, especially because it freed the foster parents to spend time with the kids rather than chasing records. I also think schools and the hospital may have responded more quickly when I said I was calling as a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate. The process might have been slower for a foster parent.”
Life is more stable for Andres and Daniel now. They are living outside the city with two dads who have two sons. Andres is in his first classroom for students with special needs and is finally receiving recommended speech therapy. Daniel is thriving at his new school with reading and math support. Amy sees the boys twice a month, usually Saturday mornings. They get to have fun.
One of her tasks as a CASA volunteer has been for Amy to help the foster parents deal with the court system. “I was at a Foster Care Plan meeting, the foster parents were there, a representative from the Home for Little Wanderers was there, an education advocate for the sister who is not living with Andres and Daniel was there, as were a clinical specialist from the boys’ school, DCF social workers and the CASA for the sister. The sister has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and has a more complicated case. At the meeting, I pushed to make sure that the boys got the attention they needed.”
Amy says that she’s the eyes and ears of the court. “I report to the judge what I see. That’s different from what DCF can do. Their lawyers might have 30-40 cases. I just have Andres and Daniel.”
Boston CASA would like to thank all volunteers like Amy who are helping children and families be their best, because, like Andres and Daniel, all children, deserve to thrive.