June is National Reunification Month. Family reunification, or family preservation, is the most common outcome we have for children. 63% of the children’s cases we helped close last year ended with them reunited with their family. When safe to do so, it is in children’s best interest to stay connected to their families. You can read more about why this is in children’s best interest in our 3-part blog series on Reunifying Families. This month we’re sharing some of our staff members’ favorite stories of helping families heal and reunify.
- CASA Staff Share Favorite Stories of Reunifying Families: Part 1
- CASA Staff Share Favorite Stories of Reunifying Families: Part 2 (Father’s Day Edition)
- CASA Staff Share Favorite Stories of Reunifying Families: Part 3
In our first two installations of family reunification stories this month, we celebrated dads and looked at the importance of support systems and the occasional need for major life changes. Today we want to focus in on our best interest advocacy for kids moving towards reunification with their family.
Child Advocacy Specialist Kayla Tatum’s favorite story of reunification starts with a very funny 12 year old boy who decided to play a prank on her the first time they met. While he had already shared his love of jokes, Kayla was taken completely off guard when she asked him how school was going. He looked at her in a completely deadpan manner and said, “School… what’s school?” Kayla was starting to process some very shocked and incredulous feelings before he burst out laughing and she remembered his love for jokes.
We focused on fostering connections for this young man who really enjoyed being around people and building relationships.
We focused on fostering connections for this young man who really enjoyed being around people and building relationships, but had previously only spent much time with his sister and mom. We brought over games and activities to purposefully foster social interactions where they were missing in his life. We checked in on his educational progress: Kayla declared him a “shining star” in school.
His mom had been dealing with drug addiction but was making great progress with her sobriety throughout the case. She was completing her required services, which she stays in touch with today for continued support. When the judge said he could go home, his mom burst out crying in the courtroom, and he respectfully said to the judge, “Thank you, I very much appreciate it.”
Advocacy Program Manager Diana McCue’s favorite reunification story had a tough beginning. The mom of a teen girl who contacted CPS for help when she could no longer deal with the teen’s severe mental health issues. The teen was placed into a residential treatment center and her mom visited her often and did family therapy. The mom and daughter did a lot of hard work to learn coping skills to strengthen their relationship and communication.
Our goal was to make her both feel and be successful in school by placing the right supports around her.
The case needed a lot of educational advocacy as the teen found school stressful and triggering. We advocated for her special education needs in order to make sure school was feasible for her. Our goal was to make her both feel and be successful in school by placing the right supports around her.
Fortunately the teen was able to transition back home with her mother after a few months. We worked with the Reintegration Project, a program of CPS, to get crucial services and supports that could continue even after the case closed, so that everyone would feel comfortable knowing there was a safety net around the family after they reunified. The mother and daughter were appreciative of the support they had received from the state and from CASA during this tough time in their lives.
Thank you for reading our favorite stories of families healing during National Reunification Month. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already. If you want to help families heal and rebuild, or if you want to help keep children connected with their relatives, consider becoming a CASA, Early Family Engagement or Family Finding volunteer. Learn more on our Volunteer webpage.
2019 Advocacy June