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Advocate Impact - Hope Dufner

Hope Dufner graduated from the new advocate training in November 2016 and signed onto a three child case without hesitation.  The case involves three girls who came into care due to neglectful supervision as a result of domestic violence between the girls’ mother and her current paramour, father of the youngest child.   The two oldest girls, ages 7 and 6 were placed with their father in Arlington, Texas, which complicated the case a bit because it would be difficult for Hope to see them frequently, being placed 4 hours away.  Nonetheless, Hope decided she wanted to work this case and be there for these girls.  The youngest was placed with her maternal grandmother in San Antonio.

From the onset of the case, Hope began getting in contact with all parties; she contacted the caregivers, teachers, and attorneys, sharing her recommendations and concerns.  She also visited the youngest child at her maternal grandmother’s home frequently.   Hope contacted the girls’ teachers and Daycare staff periodically and learned they were adjusting well and doing great in school.  Throughout the first part of the case, Hope’s biggest concern was that she could not visit the girls in Arlington frequently, and was alarmed about their well-being, as mom was making allegations against their father.  Mom had been granted supervised bi-weekly visits to see the girls, and would drive to Arlington and meet them at a McDonald’s.  Once there, she would inspect the girls and question them and make allegations they were sleeping on the floor, looked thin and their clothes were too small for them.  Hope spoke to the girls, their father and step-mother on the phone regularly and all seemed well, but she wanted to ensure the girls’ needs were being met and residing with father was in their best interest.  After sharing her concerns with her supervisor, she was able to make contact with the CASA program in Tarrant County and requested an advocate be assigned to make courtesy visits and report on the girls’ welfare.  She also advocated for individual therapy at every hearing to address any trauma from exposure to the domestic violence as well as from their move.   She also advocated a therapist be present at visits with mom, as her anxiety was causing them to feel uncomfortable due to mom questioning them.  Once school was out for summer break, Hope made the trip herself to see the girls, taking them gifts and observed that they were thriving.  The girls were comfortable, looked happy, were doing well in school, and their needs were being met. They also continued to receive therapy.

Hope also established a good rapport with the girls’ mother.  Mom was no longer in a relationship with the youngest child’s father and was engaged in all of her services; however, she was not addressing her mental health issues.  Throughout the case, mom would become very angry and upset, making statements that the caseworker was against her and accusing the girls’ father of not properly caring for them.  Hope listened to mom and always spoke to her in a calm demeanor; she never judged her and instead remained objective, taking the time to explain that although she was working her services, she needed to demonstrate she was learning from the classes and needed to remain calm and address her mental health issues.  As both Hope and Mom are veterans, she found a common ground to encourage mom.  There were times when Mom became enraged with Hope, but once she started addressing her anxiety issues, she completely changed.   Near the end of the case, Mom had improved so much, she was granted reunification of the youngest, and unsupervised visits with the older two girls.  At a mediation, it was decided the older two girls would remain with their father in Arlington, but Mom will have unsupervised weekends.  With Hope’s encouragement and spiritual guidance from her church, Mom now has her own apartment and has enrolled full-time at the University of Incarnate Word.  After the mediation, mom sent a text message to Hope stating that she was both excited and grateful of the outcome and thanked her for all her help.

Advocate Impact - Hope Dufner