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Advocate Impact:  John Kiernan

John Kiernan has been an Advocate for over six years, working over a dozen cases.  One of his current and most challenging cases involves five children ranging in ages from 6 to 16 years old.  John has been on this case for over a year and has made significant impacts in the lives’ of these deserving children, all of whom were removed from their home due to neglect and drug use by their parents. 

At the start of the case, the youngest, Chloe, was placed with her paternal grandparents. Her four brothers were placed in a single foster home.  John would visit Chloe often, even though Chloe was doing well with her grandparents.  During these visits, John would entertain Chloe with magic tricks, coloring pictures together and reading stories.  He developed a good working and trusting relationship with the grandparents.  He would use these visits to speak with Chloe’s grandparents to be sure her needs were being met.  He also toured their home to ensure safety.  He motivated them to attend adoption and Red Cross CPR classes.  

During the boys’ initial placement, they exhibited several behavioral issues.  The three middle children, Alex, Brian, and Joe showed the most behavioral problems. The eldest, Peter, often instigated hostilities leading his younger siblings to believe that bad behavior was fun and acceptable during sibling visits.  Their continuing combative and destructive behaviors were so severe that a series of three foster homes could not handle them.  As a result, the boys ended up in separate placements. Although it is not best practice to see sibling groups separated, John had the awareness to recommend that the boys be placed in separate foster homes in order to work on their individual needs. This recommendation came only after speaking with their counselor, caseworker, their attorney, and many observations and discussions with their foster homes.  

Since their separate placements, the boys have shown improvement. Peter had his own distinct needs that John was able to identify. Peter is significantly older than his siblings and had assumed the parental role. With the move, Peter was able to focus more on his own needs. John also strongly advocated for Peter to move from a group home to a family friend. They did not have a bed for Peter, so John reached out to Ashley Furniture and they donated a twin bed with pillows and all the bedding.  It really made Peter feel like part of the family and kept him from sleeping on the couch. The family was very grateful for the assistance. 

Over the past year, John has spent countless hours working with the family.  Initially, he tried to reunite the children with their mother and father.  Unfortunately, however, the parents were resistant to the changes they needed to make in order to be with their children again. Since then, John has continued to find permanency for all five children.  In spite of the many challenges, great strides have been made and John remains not only a strong voice in court for their best interests, but also their friend with whom they have bonded outside of court.

Before the case ended, John was the one who recommended to the judge that Chloe be dismissed from the case and be adopted by her grandparents.  Since that time, Chloe has been adopted and is doing very well with her grandparents and enjoying her new “forever home.”