Back in November, Program Director Sheryl Thierry and Volunteer Mentor Dawn Montgomery were welcomed on as guests to KXRW’s The Common Good. After giving a history of our program along with an overview of operations during COVID both women sat down with host Joe Clemens to share some of the real stories of children and families within care that they’ve personally impacted.
“Regardless of how many foster homes, social workers, how many therapists, how many teachers pass through this child’s life while in the care of the state I remain the same,” – Dawn Montgomery, CASA Advocate and Volunteer Mentor.
After a three-year-old child was located in a drug bust and placed into care Dawn was appointed as the CASA on the case. The mother’s issues were significant – substance use disorder, insecure housing, employment and no semblance of stability for her or her child. After two separate foster homes and a total of eighteen months in care Dawn knew she needed to advocate for what was in the best interest of the child and asked mom some tough questions, “Where do you see your child in 10 years?” Although mom was no longer attending visits with the child she was still very much involved in the conversations surrounding relinquishment and what her daughter needed. After a very gentle conversation with Dawn and the social worker the mother agreed it would be best for her daughter if mom relinquished her parental rights and the focus turned to finding a forever home for this child. This little girl found permanency in adoption and Dawn was invited by the family to be a part of that celebration. Through her work as an advocate Dawn had helped changed this girl’s life.
We are looking for a volunteer who is devoted to children and family because through a child focused lens we can often time see it is in the child’s best interest to reunify the family which is what we strive for.
After being appointed to a case Sheryl met the mother of a two-year-old boy who had been removed due to neglect. When Sheryl first met the mother it was apparent she loved her child and was an amazing person. She first took this opportunity to encourage mom that she could do this. The case started off rough, mom was still using substances and battling substance abuse, she hadn’t addressed her mental health and a difficult relationship with the assigned social worker but Sheryl recognized it was in the best interest of this little boy to be reunited with his mother and encouraged mom to participate in a specialty therapeutic court that would provide additional forms of support. At first reluctant, mom did sign into the program and was very successful. She received in patient treatment at a facility where her child was able to be placed with her. The bond between the mother and child was strong and apparent for anyone to see. It was less than two years before the case was dismissed with mom clean and sober and the child thriving in her care. There were cheers and clapping in court when the dismissal took place which Sheryl relays as a really special thing.
“There are some beautiful outcomes as a result of this work,” – Joe Clemens, The Common Good host.
Dawn’s most recent case was a long-standing one involving a family in which domestic violence and behavioral issues were involved to the point that the criminal justice system was involved. After a period of time the mother completed intensive services, established stable housing and the children were able to be returned home on a trial basis. CASA along with the courts are still monitoring the case with the children at home while mom worked on completing in home services. The most rewarding part is seeing the children settle back in with their mother after all this time.
If you’re reading this and recognizing this is work you want to become involved in we want you to know that Volunteer Mentors like Dawn are here to help support our newest volunteers recruits. You’re also assigned a staff supervisor so you are never alone in this work which can make it feel less intimidating. You can be a part of making a lasting impact on children and help make our community a better place to live.