PART 10: Support
READ: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6 | PART 7 | PART 8 | PArt 9 | PART 10 | PART 11 | PART 12
Maria, Emily’s CASA Volunteer:
I just got off the phone with Emily’s therapist. Today was Emily’s first visit with her dad since being removed from home. Her grandparents took her to her therapist’s office so that the visitation could be monitored carefully. Her therapist said the visitation overall went well. Emily was understandably hesitant at first but by the end started to open up a little more. Her dad has continued to make a lot of progress – he is acknowledging his past and still working to maintain sobriety. Based on this visitation, her therapist recommends continuing to have visits that will be supervised by Emily’s grandparents. Together with her CPS caseworker, we are recommending a bi-monthly visit at her grandparents’ house.
I had talked with Emily yesterday in preparation for the visit. She expressed some concerns at the time, of course… I think the buildup and uncertainty of what might happen was causing extra stress for her. We went over how her therapist and grandparents would be there by her side the entire time. That helped give her some comfort.
We also talked about how she was feeling being back with her mom. She is so happy and relieved to be home! I can hear the difference in her voice and see some of the brightness back in her eyes, and know that she is exactly where she needs to be to grow and thrive. She also couldn’t stop talking about Halloween and her costume. She picked the perfect costume for herself – a dragon-slaying knight!
I saw my dad for the first time since everything happened and I was taken away from home. I thought I would be mad at him, and I was some… but it also felt nice to see him smile, and have him call me Em like he used to.
He looked different. Better. He said he was sorry for everything and that none of it was my fault. He said he’s trying hard to be a better dad for me. I was glad Grandma and Grandpa were there with my therapist to make sure I felt okay.
Grandma and Grandpa have been around a lot more, too. They help Mom a lot, and its fun getting to spend more time with them. Grandma even helped make my Halloween costume and showed me how to sew! When she asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween I told her I wanted to be a knight. I always feel safer with my sword.
Mom and my aunt are taking me trick-or-treating with my friends. I’m so happy being home with Mom and at my old school. Now that I’m seeing Dad too, it’s really starting to feel like normal again. No, not normal… better. More like it used to be.
First Visitation with Dad
While Emily’s dad was originally slow to start making progress with his service plan, he is now actively engaged in taking steps in a positive direction. After months of therapy and support from Maria, Emily is now ready to meet with her dad. Their first visit was supervised at her therapist’s office and included her grandparents. All parties felt the visit went well and have started to develop an ongoing supervised visitation schedule. The visits will now take place bi-monthly and will be supervised by her grandparents.
Network of Support
Emily has been back at home with her mother for the past month. At Emily’s second permanency hearing, the judge ordered a full monitored return home. The monitored return has been going well, and the family support network has played a large role in this. Both Emily’s grandparents and aunt have continued to help support Emily and her mom during this transition. The aptly named lifetime network is a major component of Collaborative Family Engagement, and all people involved are actively working to meet Emily’s biggest unmet need: “Emily needs, deserves and has the right to a stable, safe, unconditionally loving home, with family, forever.”
The team had previously created a Calendar of Support that lists upcoming activities like Halloween, birthdays, school functions and outings, and who is invited to these celebrations. By supporting Emily, the team is supporting her mother and creating a lasting network that will continue to help Emily and her mother after CPS and CASA’s involvement ends.
Tune in next month for the next part of Emily’s story.*
*This is a fictional story based on real-life situations that many children in the Texas foster care system face. No confidential information about any real children or families has been disclosed.