Cheryl completed her new advocate training in July and immediately accepted her first case on July 29, 2019. Now, before we get started with her story, keep in mind this is October 3rd. Everything your are about to read has taken place in just over 2 months. Ready?
Cheryl's case involves an infant boy that was removed for neglect do to habitual drug use by the biological parents. This tiny, sweet boy had been placed in a foster home since CPS could not locate any suitable family. Cheryl was in contact with the placement her first day on the case. Next was the CPS caseworker, and studying all the information compiled by the State up to that point. Cheryl had read the documentation on the biological parents showing lifelong cycles of drug use and rehab. She spoke to grandparents, attorneys, every relative she could find - she even spoke to the neighbor of the biological paternal grandfather. Here's the thing- many of these people were not interested in speaking to her, but Cheryl is not one to take no for an answer. In some cases she may have simply wore them down.
Cheryl's tenacity has definitely paid off. She has located not one, but two family members willing and able to adopt this sweet baby if needed. Her investigation also uncovered the fact that bio mom had 3 other children where the state had already terminated rights. The state had also lost track of both biological parents, but Cheryl found them; even though dad was in another state. The amazing part of this is that Cheryl isn't working this case like a vigilante- she has formed a very close relationship with the CPS caseworker, and makes everyone working on behalf of her kiddo feel like an important part of the team. One of the most amazing contacts she has made is with the ad litem for the kiddos. It took several voicemails, emails, and texts before the attorney even spoke to Cheryl, but he quickly realized what a valuable resource she was. He is now just one of the many interested parties on this case that rely on Cheryl for accurate, timely information.
Remember when we said Cheryl had been on the case for 2 months? In that time, she has logged 96 contacts and invested 56 hours. NINETY SIX CONTACTS. Does anyone have any doubts that the baby boy on this case will have anything but the best representation in court? We are in complete awe of this incredible powerhouse of an advocate, and honestly, naming her Advocate of the Month doesn't seem sufficient, but it's done with love and gratitude.
Thank you, Cheryl, and congratulations!
Theresa accepted her first case immediately following her swearing-in in November of last year. Her case included 2 siblings placed in the Amarillo area. Having raised children of her own and spending her career in elementary education, Theresa bonded with her kiddos quickly. The brother and sister pair allowed Theresa to enter their small circle of trust, and the relationship between the three grew stronger through the many visits and activities planned by Theresa. She instinctively knew that determining their best interest would be based on the culmination of information from all involved parties, and, of course, the kiddos themselves. With family reunification as the primary CPS goal, Theresa also worked consistently to keep apprised of the biological parents' progress on their service plans.
As the case progressed, Theresa was able to reinforce the confidence of the older sibling who had taken the brunt of the verbal abuse from their parents. In helping him find his voice, Theresa made sure he had the opportunity to speak to the judge. This option is available to all foster kids, but one that is seldom used. Sadly, it is common for foster kids to feel invisible and powerless. With Theresa's support, her CASA kiddo calmly but firmly let the judge know that although he loved his parents, they were not capable of caring for him and his sister. Because of her methodical contacts and detailed notes, Theresa was able to validate her kiddos request. This case recently closed with the biological parents relinquishing their rights so that the kids could be adopted by their foster placement. All through this highly emotional process Theresa maintained focus on the kids and how to best ensure their future.
The CASA Advocate is typically dismissed from a case at the final hearing, and the older sibling interpreted this to mean he would never see Theresa again. Tears turned to laughter and hugs when he learned that his trusted friend could remain in his life.
Thank you, Theresa, for giving your kiddos the time, love and support they needed!