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10.01.2014

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Advocate Impact:  Linda Tepfenhart

Domestic violence, parents using and selling drugs, and poor living conditions have caused three young boys to enter the foster care system.  Initially, these boys were placed with a relative, but a registered sex offender in that relative placement required them to be moved immediately.  These unfortunate events initiated a string of placements for the boys, new schools, instability and a mess of behavioral issues.  This is the story of how one Advocate can make a huge difference in the life of their CASA children. 

Luckily for Andrew, Seth, and Samuel, they had Linda Tepfenhart as their CASA Advocate. Every time they had an unfortunate placement change, they knew Linda would visit. They knew she would make sure they were doing well.  After being removed from their relative and placed in a local temporary children’s shelter, Linda quickly worked on gathering these boys’ records to ensure the shelter was able to meet their needs.  She also made sure that they were up to date on their medical and dental appointments. This was especially vital since two of the boys required follow-up dental care that had been overlooked by the shelter staff.  Linda took time to meet with teachers at their previous and new school to facilitate a smooth transition for the children.  Linda’s interaction with the eldest child’s previous teacher allowed her to provide Andrew with notes and cards from the kids in his previous class.  Having a hard time with his transition to a new school, Andrew was thrilled to open the letters.

Linda worked diligently with the CPS caseworker to ensure that any new placement would be a single home for all of the boys.  Linda was insistent that the boys stay together. All they had was each other. When the boys moved placements, Linda accompanied them. She worked tirelessly with the caseworker to guarantee a smooth transition and helped the boys get settled into their new home.  Through her commitment and devotion to these children, she was able to calm and reassure them. 

With this as her very first case, Linda was fraught with the challenges of placement changes and special behavioral needs with three young boys.  In order to more effectively advocate for services on their behalf, she worked closely with their mother to better understand their needs.  With each visit, however, Linda observed a mother who became easily overwhelmed, making a realistic reunification impossible. 

Throughout this case, the boys did not have contact with their father, whose relationship with their mother had supposedly been severed.  When Linda received a call from the CPS caseworker informing her that both parents had been involved in a shooting, she learned that they were hit by the same bullet but had survived their injuries. Through that near death experience, the boys’ father decided that he did want to begin to work his service plan. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete it. 

The rights of both parents have now been terminated. Seth and Samuel are currently in a foster-to-adopt home, while Andrew is getting specialized help at an RTC.  At this point, their future is uncertain.  One thing the children do know, however, is that Linda will always be there for them, helping to ensure that they receive the care and attention they deserve.

Advocate Impact:  Linda Tepfenhart