For 17-year-old Iris, marching band meant everything. Not only did she love playing the clarinet, but her band friends were her best friends. They saw past the fact she was in foster care to the kind, nurturing girl underneath.

Band was what got Iris up in the morning. Band was the reason her grades were good. Band was everything to her.

So when Iris had to be moved suddenly to a new foster home before her junior year in high school, her Dallas CASA volunteer Kathryn knew there would be a problem.

Her new foster home was zoned to a different high school. Iris would lose her beloved marching band.

Kathryn felt that letting Iris stay at her old high school and participate in marching band would increase her chances of success. She checked attendance policies for the old and new high schools. She checked state laws. Then she found a provision in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that allows children in protective care who move homes at a time that could impact their high school graduation to be provided bus transportation back to the prior high school.

Kathryn started making calls. Iris’ old high school was willing to provide the bus transportation, but they could not get it arranged until two weeks into the school year. Iris’ new foster placement could pick her up after school, but they could not get her there in time for band practice in the morning. After talking to her supervisor and Iris’ Child Protective Services caseworker, the trio took Iris to school in the mornings for two weeks.

By September, her bus transportation was up and running, and Iris was marching on the football field with her friends. Kathryn went to see Iris perform at a game in October.

After years of profound neglect and then the uncertainty of foster care, Iris had someone looking out just for her and her best interests.

Today, Iris is a high school graduate and still the kind and nurturing girl Kathryn first met. Iris aged out of foster care, works a full-time job at a home improvement store and is starting classes to become an emergency dispatcher.