Lincoln, 5, was asleep in the backseat of the getaway car when police officers arrested his mother and father for stealing from a hardware store. His parents were both high on heroin and Xanax.
With no foster homes available, Child Protective Services placed Lincoln and his older brother, 12-year-old Garrett, in an emergency foster shelter so they could stay together. The boys were assigned a Dallas CASA volunteer, Karen, to advocate for their best interests.
At the first court hearing for the boys, Karen met Lincoln and Garrett’s mother and father and noted they were open and receptive to getting help with their addictions. They had already begun resolving their criminal cases and attending drug treatment. They told Karen how much they missed their boys and were ready to do whatever was needed to be reunited.
Karen met the boys at their emergency shelter. Garrett, 12, was desperately unhappy, missing his friends at school, the bunkbed he shared with Lincoln, his music and, most of all, his parents. Lincoln, 5, was glad to be with Garrett, but he was struggling to follow directions and regulate his active behavior in a busy shelter with rotating caregivers.
Karen worked to get the boys placed with a family friend, who lived just two blocks from the boys’ parents’ new two-bedroom apartment. This allowed the boys more supervised visitation with their parents and the chance for Garrett to return to his school.
With the boys close by, their parents continued to work to complete services ordered by the judge. They completed their drug treatment, maintained employment and regularly tested negative on drug tests. They furnished their new apartment, setting up the boys’ bunkbed in the second bedroom. They visited the boys often and stayed in close contact with Karen. After a few weeks, CPS, CASA and attorneys agreed the boys could return to their parents while the case remained open. The boys would be home, but CPS and CASA would still be checking in regularly.
Over the next few months, the boys’ parents continued to get their lives back on track, and Karen was able to offer guidance and assistance. She helped them get Lincoln enrolled in a preschool program combined with daycare. She celebrated when the boys’ dad found work as an auto mechanic, his preferred field and a significantly higher salary. The boys’ mother proudly shared Garrett’s all As and Bs report card with Karen.
After the case closed, Karen received a powerful thank you note from Garrett and Lincoln’s mother.
“Thank you for seeing that we really did love our children and wanted them and just needed a little help with our problem,” the boys’ mother wrote in an email to Karen. “Thanks for fighting for us and helping us become a family again. I promise from this day forward we will do everything in our power to hold on to what you guys have helped build and make it bigger and stronger and better every day.”