What The Foundation Funds
Ebony softly hums a tune and dances across her room. With eyes shut, she spins faster and faster. She wishes she could disappear. She is afraid to go to sleep. Ebony is a tall and graceful child who, like 11% of abused and neglected children, is a victim of sexual abuse.
Downstairs her mother and boyfriend are getting high. Ebony wonders if he will come to her room again tonight. She tries to push her dresser in front of her door, but it doesn’t budge. Ebony is seven years old. She has told her mother what he does to her. Yet, the abuse continues. But it will end tonight. In the morning, Ebony will find her mother propped up on the couch bloated like a stuffed teddy bear, dead from an overdoes.
Ebony dances to her latest CD, Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Thanks to the CASA Foundation, Ebony is being classically trained in ballet. Today she is a young teenager living with her foster parents, who are hardworking ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. Through their love and nurturing, Ebony is flourishing. Through counseling, she is healing. Through the arts, her self esteem, confidence and sense of worth are soaring.
What does a twelve year old boy do when he doesn’t know who his father is, and his mother is arrested, convicted and sent to prison? This was Zachary’s admittance ticket into the foster care system two years ago.
While other adolescents Zachary’s age are either filled with rage at the circumstances they find themselves in or are so grief stricken and afraid that they have trouble functioning appropriately, Zachary has a dream. Zachary wants to be a United States Naval Office. The question is, how to get there from here?
On his own he determined it was important to maintain good grades in school and gear his activities, both in school and after school, towards what would help make that dream come true. He found out that the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program offered a series of mini “boot camps” for kids his age and that if he attended, he would be eligible for the ROTC program in high school. The problem was money. While his immediate needs of food and clothing were being met in his foster home, there wasn’t any room in the budget for $300 in camp fees.
That’s where the CASA Foundation stepped in. The Foundation helped Zachary move closer to his dream by funding the requests for camp. Zachary realizes dreams can come true and is working hard to do his part.
Among other problems, Christina has bad eyes. Her natural mother surrendered custody because she did not have the resources to care for her daughter, or to provide the medication Christina needed. Christina has been in care for five years. There is no realistic permanency plan for her at this time. Beyond a certain age, kids are hard to adopt, especially kids with health problems. Reunification with her mother is out of the question, as she does not have the emotional or financial resources to care for her. This left Christina with emotional scars in addition to her health needs.
Christina’s glasses broke, and her foster parents took them back to the optometrist for repair. Because Medicaid had not yet paid for the previous exam and new glasses, the doctor would not release Christina’s glasses after repair. For the lack of $89, Christina would have been left practically blind for weeks. The CASA Foundation provided the funds to pay the doctor so Christina could get her glasses back.
Daniel was eight years old when he came into foster care. His mom left over five years ago and now has other children in the system in Arizona. His dad is an alcoholic and drug user who has a long history of poor parenting skills. Daniel was not attending school very often and was getting very poor grades. Child Protective Services were notified by the apartment supervisor that Daniel was often left alone and that he was getting into trouble with older juveniles.
After coming into care, Daniel was placed in a foster home with three other foster children enrolled in Tae Kwon Do. Daniel decided to join too. The program provides the children with a positive outlet for their energy. For Daniel it provides him with a structured even and place to go where he feels he belongs, and offers him an opportunity to excel.
And excel he has! While Daniel will most likely remain in long-term foster care with the right to see his dad, he is excelling in a sport which brings out the best in him. He attended the National Junior Olympics this year and brought home a bronze medal. Daniel’s participation in the program was made possible with funds provided by the CASA Foundation.
Jacob’s a traveling kind of kid. In five years he lived in seven states with his mother and various stepfathers before being abandoned in the lobby of a downtown Las Vegas hotel the day before his sixth birthday. He was taken into custody and placed in foster care until parental rights were terminated.
A maternal cousin agreed to adopt him and soon Jacob traveled to Seattle, Washington, but he sabotaged his family’s efforts and was returned to the state of Nevada. Why did he do this? Jacob was certain his mother would be coming back for him.
Jacob had elderly grandparents in Massachusetts who were already raising two of Jacob’s sisters and were unable to take another child. But the CASA Foundation maintained the relationship by sending Jacob to visit his grandparents over the holidays. Over the course of the next five years, Jacob lived in six foster homes and was able to visit his grandparents four times.
Finally, a couple visited from Boston just to meet Jacob. They wanted to adopt him. The CASA Foundation bought another airplane ticket and Jacob was off again to visit his potential family in Boston.
Today, Jacob lives with his adoptive parents, has a large extended family, and often travels by care to visit his grandparents and siblings who live less than two hundred miles away.
Kevin, 13 and his sister Julie, age 8, came into foster care after their mother had been stabbed multiple times by Julie’s father. He subsequently committed suicide. Their mother survived, but required hospitalization for her physical, emotional, and psychological wounds.
Afraid and feeling alone, Kevin and Julie’s CASA volunteer insisted that the children not be separated while in foster care. The first home was ideal….long-time foster parents who had dealt with the grief only children separated from their parents experience. It was discovered that the home was not licensed for the additional children, and Julie was led away after dinner one night to the home of a complete stranger. While waiting until another home could be found that would accept both kids, Kevin was placed in “respite care” while his foster family dealt with a death in the family. During this time, the CASA volunteer made sure Kevin and Julie maintained contact with one another, and with their mother.
Finally, a home was found which was properly licensed and ready to welcome the two kids. In the space of six months, Kevin and Julie had been in five different placements, all in different school districts. In addition to the trauma inflicted upon their young lives, their academic progress was halted. The schools assessed the children and developed an Individual Education Program for them, but it wasn’t going to be enough. They were behind and not catching up. The CASA volunteer located a tutoring program and petitioned the CASA Foundation for the funds to pay for it. The Foundation was able to fund nine months of individual tutoring for both Kevin and Julie at a time in their lives when consistency was as important as learning skills.
Today, Kevin is starting to talk more about what he wants to do in the future. He cares about his progress, and is asking questions about college. He received straight A’s on his last report card. Julie’s self esteem has improved, as she is more and more able to complete the work commensurate for her grade level. The CASA Foundation, through the tutoring grant, helped provide two children with some fo the tools they will need to succeed in life.