At a time that 14-year-old Bradley was supposed to be into video games, sports and music, this frustrated and closed off young man was in a group home, separated from his younger brother and suffering from an untreated medical diagnosis. Diana, new and bright-eyed CASA volunteer was anxious to get started on her very first case. After reviewing Bradley’s case history, she set up an action plan. Step 1 was to meet with Bradley.
Bradley had a revolving door of placements and well-meaning caseworkers due to their large caseloads. Diana called caseworker after caseworker only to find that Bradley’s case had been reassigned yet again. She reached out to the newly assigned caseworker to learn that he had not become familiar with Bradley’s case. Diana visited with Bradley and upon leaving is questioned “will you show back up?” Diana returned with “I will be back.” The trust began to build because Diana always kept her word.
She knew this was a special case and told herself that she would see that this child would not be looked over anymore. Upon review of case documents, Diana noticed that Bradley had been previously diagnosed with a medical condition, was not getting his required medication and needed counseling. The group home was not aware of these issues. Diana worked closely with the new caseworker, group home and school counselor, ensuring Bradley was a priority and that these needs were being met.
Diana expressed in the CASA volunteer court report that Bradley had an extreme concern over his younger brother’s safety. Bradley hadn’t seen his sibling in months and was worried about him due to his mother’s relationship with drugs and numerous abusive men. The Judge ordered a well-being check of his younger brother only to find that the mother was incapable of keeping the child safe. The child was removed from the home and placed with his father.
Through the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) collaboration with the school district, group home, caseworkers, attorneys for the child, teachers, Chautauqua County Mental Health Association, Child Advocacy Program and many others, Bradley has received the necessary medical services and counseling to cope and deal with the childhood trauma he endured. For over four years, Diana, the CASA staff and caseworker worked with Bradley to teach him skills to live independently and look for colleges. Bradley is now on the track to graduate high school with honors and fosters a strong relationship with his younger brother.
UWAYSCC 100 Years, 100 Stories blog submission by Kelly Fiorella, Fund Development Coordinator Court Appointed Special Advocates. The mission of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program in Chautauqua County, NY is to provide an independent voice in court, advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the pursuit of safe and permanent homes. For more about CASA visit www.chautauquacasa.com