Three years ago, CASA of CGS received a referral to provide an advocate for an 11-year-old girl who had lost both of her biological parents. Sarah’s father had committed suicide by taking a gun and fatally wounding himself while Sarah was in the next room. Her mother had been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and passed away six months later. Sarah had been removed from a foster home and placed into the home of one of her father’s friends nearly two hours from the county in which her case was being heard. The CASA advocate drove, faithfully, every two weeks to visit Sarah and would keep her company while she jumped on the trampoline, talked about friends at school, and reflected on life. Sarah truly enjoyed singing and eventually worked up the nerve to sing in front of her advocate. Despite the tragedies she had faced at such a young age, she was mature, bubbly, and level-headed. The CASA recognized that Sarah had quite a bit of potential and recommended her for the First Star Rowan Academy.
The program is designed to prepare foster youth for college by offering a four-week college immersion summer program on the Rowan University campus, in addition to monthly meetings with the children and their families on campus. Sarah’s CASA advocate also attended the monthly meetings at Rowan and continued to visit Sarah at her home, despite the two-hour drive. Sarah often detailed the sadness she felt while in the previous resource home and desperately wanted other resource parents to know that when a child comes into their care, no matter how long their stay would be, they need the parents to provide them with affection. She explained that it’s a very lonely position to be in and truly wanted someone to wrap their arms around her and tell her it would be okay, even if it wasn’t. Sarah’s final placement with her father’s friend proved to be a perfect match. Her adoption was finalized in July and, through broken words, told her advocate that at times, when her adoptive father would speak, he would sound just like her late father. Sarah went on to successfully complete the first summer session and continues to participate in the program with her adoptive father and extended family.
None of this would be possible without the dedication and love of our advocates and supporters – thank you all!