One of my responsibilities as a CASA  is to attend various meetings related to my case. This morning, for example, there was an hour long meeting with the Citizen’s Review Board that listed some findings and that (somewhat predictably to me at least) ran a bit long. I had to submit a report for the meeting, which included some adorable pictures of the children I am a CASA for, and I let my report do the talking, and decided to keep relatively quiet during the meeting, which was all the more interesting as I was sitting next to the mother and her mentor, who were not having particularly good days. Strikingly ironically, the person on the other side of the mother was the attorney for the two children, who I got to talk with for a bit after the meeting. This seat placement may have made the meeting a bit more stressful for the mother. Be that as it may, I do not wish to talk about anything that happened at the meeting itself, as it was largely a summary of what had happened in the past few months with the case (which is now six months old in its current iteration), but rather I would like to talk about the delicate task of coordination.
As anyone who is familiar with my writing knows, I muse often on the subject of communication. And so it would be fairly obvious that I would find a brief discussion where I was one of four people to be greatly of interest. Included in this conversation was my CASA supervisor, who had worked for quite a few years as a DHS caseworker himself, the permanency caseworker, and the attorney for the kiddos. We discussed the meeting itself, and the fact that there were a lot of people there, some of them with wildly different agendas and purposes, and I thought our own little soiree did a good job at putting us on the same page at least. None of us felt that a great deal of progress had been made over the course of the first six months of the case and we all agreed that some pretty drastic progress was necessary. Given the fact that this case has gone on for so long and there are still some basic and fundamental issues still remain to be dealt with, we all saw that there was the potential for a dividing of the paths, and such a division is likely to occur very soon.
Part of the complication of that is that my CASA case has two kiddos with two different fathers and the same mother, an obviously less than ideal situation. The father for one of the kiddos is in jail and will be for several more years, while the other father has served time for an inappropriate relationship with a teen female. Part of the tricky coordination were were all working on is the fact that this young man in his twenties is, at the present time, the best parental resource for his young son, and is understandably skittish about dealing with the system because of his own background and experiences. Part of my job, at least, is to give him some encouragement that we are not his enemies and that we are not here to condemn him because he is inexperienced as a parent and because he has a background. He seems like a decent enough fellow, if a shy young man, and as far as I could see, apart from his estranged girlfriend (i.e. the baby mama), he did not have enemies in the room. We’re rooting for him to do well as a father and hope the best for him and his son, even if his own background is going to make it a challenge for the half-siblings to keep in contact with each other given his restrictions on being around female minors.
If only all things could be that easy. It is probably for the best that there are three months until the next court hearing. I get the feeling this case could have some ominous aspects to it. For one, there are pages and pages of past involvement between the family and DHS, and I for one just do not feel confident that at the present we can just wash our hands of this case and say that the family is never going to be involved in the system again. I’m not staking my own reputation on that, let’s put it bluntly. I am gravely uneasy about the well-being of the children involved given their family background, and given that it is my role to look out for their best interests, something I take pretty seriously, there is a lot that I have my eye on that I am definitely keeping an eye on and will continue to do so in the coming months. Whether or not I will be able to say very much about it, I definitely have it on my mind, and it was good at least to be able to communicate with some of the other parties involved and make sure we are all on the same page, at least.
 See, for example: