South Jersey Non Profits, CASA and FSN, Help Reunite a Local Family

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Picture and names are changed to hide identity of family.

Dana came into care after the Division received an anonymous report of neglect and substance abuse by the mother. The 7 year old had been left alone in a motel room while her mother reportedly left to purchase and consume prescription pills. Dana’s father was a frequent visitor at the county jail with a large array of charges, including, but not limited to, drug abuse and theft. DCP&P removed Dana from her mother and placed her in the care of her maternal aunt. Dana suffered from some severe behaviors stemming from abandonment issues and an educational delay. Her CASA advocate was not deterred.

She immediately began meeting with Dana and talked about ways to curb her anger and disappointment and taught her how to find positives in negative situations. She sat with Dana and drew out charts to help her identify the things she had to look forward to and pinpointed the things she could change that weren’t positive. She observed the relationships Dana held with her mother and aunt and visited Dana’s school once per week to work on an action plan to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) put in place. While the CASA advocate knew the steps she had to take to help Dana, she also wanted to make sure the mom would be able to make progress, too. The CASA advocate referred the mother to a local nonprofit, Family Strengthening Network (FSN), which provides an advocate to the families to strengthen in the areas they fall.  The mom worked independently with FSN while the CASA advocate worked with Dana and prepared numerous court reports citing facts and providing recommendations to ensure Dana received the therapy and IEP she so desperately needed. Dana wanted nothing more than to be back home with her mother. After two emotional years, mom had secured housing and employment, was promoted at her job, and was allowed by the court to open her doors again to her child. Unfortunately, the father remains lodged in jail for an unknown amount of time and didn’t show an interest in being involved in Dana’s life throughout litigation.

Dana will receive ongoing therapy with her favorite counselor to help her cope with that thanks to the closing recommendation of her CASA advocate. The IEP process was explained to Dana’s mother by the school and her daughter’s CASA advocate to help her continue with the yearly evaluations and lead Dana to success with her education. The day the court terminated litigation, tears filled the room as mom and Dana immediately jumped into a long, tight hug celebrating their reunification. The case has been closed for 8 months and, still, progress is evident. Mom hasn’t relapsed, the family home is well-maintained, and the IEP has helped Dana immensely.

None of this would be possible without the dedication and love of our advocates and supporters – thank you all!

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