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09.07.2016

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Advocate Impact - Shari Gaiennie

Shari has been a CASA Advocate since March 2015.  Her current case has four sisters who came into the foster care system due to physical abuse by their adoptive parents, of the third child, Lori.

Lori was born with Spina Bifida, a spinal cord disorder characterized by the incomplete development of the brain or spinal cord and other physical challenges. In addition to Lori’s diagnosis, all four girls were given multiple diagnosis including Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysthymia, Expressive Language Disorder and other acute reactions to stress.

During the course of the case, the adoptive parents teetered back and forth on whether or not they wanted Lori back. They openly stated that they didn’t want Lori back “the way she was.”

Initially, all four girls were in the same placement and Shari made frequent visits to the shelter to see them.  She brought them to a CASA Art and Soul event and took them to the zoo.  She spoke with their teachers and determined that there was a breakdown in communication between the girls’ placement and school.  Shari attended school meetings to include Admissions Review and Dismissals (ARDs) and had follow up meetings with teachers and caregivers regarding the progress of the children.  Shari also assisted with transportation of the girls to their medical appointments and psychological evaluations. 

Eventually the girls were separated into three different placements. Shari ensured that the therapy, medical attention and educational services she advocated for followed the girls into their new homes; she did not want them to lose the progress they worked so hard to achieve. Once the sisters were situated in their new surroundings, Shari began establishing routine sibling visits. It was important to her that the girls remained in contact with each other, maintaining a healthy, familiar relationship.  

The parents completed their services and had a therapeutic recommendation supporting reunification. However, the parents continued to deny that they had any role/responsibility for the physical abuse of Lori.  Furthermore, they could not decide if they wanted Lori back in their home.  While the other siblings were reunified, Shari continued to schedule sibling visits so all the girls could spend time together; separate from the parent/child visits Lori was having.

Shari was able to locate Paternal Grandparents and other relatives of the biological father whose parental rights had been terminated. With approval, she began arranging visitation between Lori and paternal relatives. This was important for Lori because she was aware that she was not going to be with her sisters.

Shari has had such a positive impact on this case. She continues to work tirelessly to find Lori a home.  In the meantime, she has been instrumental in making sure that these siblings continue to have a close bond and a solid relationship.   Thank you Shari for your advocacy on behalf of the girls!

Advocate Impact - Shari Gaiennie