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Advocate Impact: Jackie Lopez’s Story

The word ‘chaotic’ cannot adequately describe the world that Sandy came from. Constant Family violence between her mother and grandmother, which was compounded by psychological problems, often spilled over and consumed everyone in her home. Her mother’s inability to protect her from this violence led to CPS’ involvement and Sandy’s subsequent removal from the home, at the age of sixteen. Due to the complexity of the case, Jackie Lopez was assigned as Sandy’s CASA Advocate.

Sandy developed many problems that stemmed from her chaotic family environment, including violent outbursts and self-harming behaviors. Because of these issues, CPS struggled to find a stable living solution for her, resulting in Sandy spending the next year being moved between foster homes, hospitals, and residential treatment facilities. Despite her caseworker’s best efforts, permanency for Sandy seemed impossible. But Jackie never gave up; within seven months of taking the case, she found Sandy a stable foster home.

From their first day together, Jackie recognized the importance of earning Sandy’s trust and respect. Her frequent visits, constant presence, and ability to keep promises soon developed into a stabilizing force in Sandy’s life. When Sandy needed her braces removed, it was Jackie who found Sandy’s orthodontist and made the appointments. When Sandy transferred facilities, it was Jackie who met weekly with Sandy’s medical professionals to ensure that everyone had her most recent medical and psychological history. When Sandy began to find stability in her life, it was Jackie who encouraged her to join extracurricular activities at school. Soon afterwards it was determined that, due to her progress, Sandy’s medications would be reduced.

As Sandy approached her 18th birthday, her plan for permanency was murky. Because her biological mother’s parental rights had not been terminated, nor could she offer Sandy a safe home, CPS’s plan was to send Sandy to a local homeless shelter, Haven for Hope. Jackie knew that Sandy deserved better, especially after all the progress that she had made. Through connections at CASA, Jackie learned of Lexi’s Place, a long-term transitional living facility for young women. Lexi’s Place could offer Sandy a safe home, the continuing services that she needed, and the ability to develop the life skills that she would need as an independent adult.

Despite CPS’s reservations, Jackie successfully advocated for placement at Lexi’s Place. Since then, Sandy has continued to make significant improvements and now has a bright future ahead of her. Because of Jackie’s tireless advocacy and dedicated work, Sandy’s world is now ‘normal’.