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04.30.2014

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Advocate Impact:  Phyllis Gatti Hall

Phyllis Gatti Hall’s first case involved six children ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old. The family, homeless for nearly three weeks, came to the attention of Child Protective Services (CPS) due to neglectful supervision from the mother who was suffering from unaddressed mental health issues. Jason, one of the teens, experienced repeated abuse and neglect by his mother, who treated him differently because he was born as a result of rape. The mother frequently berated Jason and dismissed parental responsibility claiming he was the source of her problems. Jason made an outcry regarding his mother’s drug habits which resulted in him being abandoned by her.

The impact Phyllis made on these children's lives was immediately evident. Although Jason was able to be placed at a fictive kin placement, the other children were placed at Boysville. After visiting Jason, Phyllis learned that the fictive kin wasn’t in favor of sibling visits, phone contact, or visits from CASA. When the fictive kin informed Phyllis that Jason was having trouble sleeping and might require medication, Phyllis became concerned. Jason had mentioned to her that he was sleeping well. Phyllis was also troubled by the fact that Jason was being made to do inappropriate chores in the home.

At school, Jason was suspended for three days for fighting, which prompted inappropriate discipline by the fictive kin.  Jason was also failing both English and science; and, even though the placement had agreed to obtain Jason's homework from school, which was critical to helping raise his failing grades, they did not follow through. Phyllis took it upon herself to pick up the work for Jason and also recommend that he receive a psychological evaluation and therapy.

Due to combative, aggressive, and controlling behavior by Jason’s placement, Phyllis collaborated with the case worker and the children’s attorney to move Jason and place him with his siblings. Judges rarely make placement changes so soon in a case, especially at a 60-day hearing; but, for Phyllis, it was a success.  The children were reunited.

Throughout the case, Phyllis was aware of each child's unique personality and challenges. She worked with the female siblings - Jan, Lisa, and Becky - on developing basic interpersonal skills, as they would often argue and behave poorly when they did not get their own way. One of the girls, Lisa, claimed she wanted to change, “everything about herself,” as she struggled with low self-esteem brought about in part due to a chronic ailment and a dire need for orthodontia treatment. As part of her advocacy, Phyllis obtained funding through Smiles Orthodontics and hopes the dental work will help raise Lisa’s self-esteem and improve her self-image.

Phyllis has proven to be a valuable asset to CASA and the children on her case.  She has positively impacted their lives and is determined to ensure that their futures are not a product of their circumstances, but instead a product of the choices they make.

Advocate Impact:  Phyllis Gatti Hall