Best friends swinging in a park
Ultimately, Child Protective Services intervened on the children’s behalf, removing them from their mother’s unsafe and neglectful home. But this time when they sought refuge with grandma, the two young sisters were denied and placed with an aunt instead. Their case was soon referred to Dallas CASA for assignment to a volunteer advocate who could work in the best interest of the children.
Volunteer advocate Sandy was reviewing paperwork on the case before meeting the family for the first time when the error hit her like a lightning bolt.
“The first day I came to the CASA office to learn about the case, I saw in the case files that the wrong grandma was restricted to supervised visits,” Sandy said.
The children had two very different grandmothers. Their paternal grandmother had a criminal record and was only allowed supervised visits with the children. Their maternal grandmother, with whom they’d sought refuge, did not have a criminal record and should have been allowed full contact with the children. But in the confusion of removal, the maternal grandmother was accidentally restricted to supervised visits only.
The family, overwhelmed by the changes in their family dynamic, had not asked why the children’s maternal grandmother was not allowed to be with the children.
The family had gone weeks with an aunt keeping the children with no other help. With the aunt working full-time, the strain on her and the children had been immense. In that one moment, Sandy was able to change the entire family’s lives for the better. She notified Child Protective Services and the judge in the case, and the error was immediately corrected. When Sandy called the family with the news that the grandmother could be with the children again, they broke down in tears.
“Now the grandmother could help raise the children, as she had since they were born,” she said. “Their lives were so much easier with two adults in the picture.”
The children’s grandmother and aunt are now raising them in a safe, loving home. The grandmother and aunt both work full time, but they trade shifts so one of them is always home with the children, providing the stability they’d lacked for their first decade of life.
An experienced volunteer advocate, Sandy has worked four cases over three years and says the role is a rewarding one for her.
“When I got these children back in their grandmother’s home, I knew I’d made a difference,” she said. “Their lives were certainly changed, but so was mine.”
*Children’s names have been changed to protect their identity