Charissa is assigned to a now 19-year old young man for whom she has been a CASA for the past 3 and a half years. This young man has cognitive and behavioral challenges which made it very difficult for Charissa to engage with him initially. Charissa persevered and continued to show up for visits despite the then 15-year old youth’s occasional refusal to come out of his room, or if he chose to visit, conducting the visit avoiding eye contact and speaking very little. Over time, the youth began to participate in the visits, and even asked for Charissa if she was unable to make a scheduled visit. The connection Charissa was able to establish with this youth is evidenced by the fact that Charissa was there to help him navigate the decision of whether he wanted to sign back in to DCF care or not as he approached his 18th birthday. With Charissa’s ongoing support and guidance, this young man decided to sign back in to DCF care. As time has gone on, this young man has continued to face significant decisions, such as continuing his education, securing employment, and deciding where he wants to live – whether that was returning to live with his biological mother, move to a different residential facility, or be placed in a pre-Independent Living (IL) setting. After repeated conversations and problem-solving discussions with his CASA, clinician and DCF social worker, this young man made the important decision at the beginning of September to live in a pre-IL placement. According to Charissa: “We are so proud of him for making this mature decision and it truly is an amazing journey to see a change in his persona and taking more responsibility for his own actions.”
Charissa’s relationship with her youth illustrates some of the best aspects of Boston CASA. CASAs are consistent and CASAs show up! Thank you, Charissa!