Advocate News


Posted in:

Advocate Impact:  Maria Ramirez

The most important thing in a child’s life is family. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, children are deprived of that essential foundation. Fortunately, CASA volunteers can help. This is the story of two young girls, six-year-old Jenny and one-year-old Jackie, who were lucky enough to discover how much an Advocate could change their lives.

When CASA volunteer Maria Ramirez met the girls, they were living in a foster home. They had been removed by CPS after their mother, who was chronically homeless, sought help with her children from a local church while she attended a drug treatment program. The girls were used to living out of hotel rooms and were constantly exposed to their mother’s intravenous drug usage. The girls had family who could take them in, but a long running discord prevented that placement.

Due to their mother’s lifestyle, the girls suffered from numerous disorders and delays. Jenny was emotionally unstable, suffered from anxiety, tantrums, insomnia, and frequent nightmares. She did well in school, but would often act out in the foster home. Jackie showed little emotion, could not speak, and was very limited in her social skills. She also trembled frequently. To address these concerns, Maria pushed for the girls to receive therapy services and sought medication for Jenny’s insomnia.

The most significant result of Maria’s advocacy, however, was her ability to heal the familial rift. Maria began to communicate with the maternal great aunt, grandmother, and aunt in search of a possible relative placement for the two girls. She made quite a bit of progress, but various disagreements still hampered her efforts. However, when the girls’ placement at the foster home ceased to be healthy, the great aunt and grandmother both stepped up.

The great aunt was approved by CPS to take custody, although she only agreed as a temporary measure, while the grandmother corrected problems identified during her own home study. As soon as the girls arrived at their great aunt’s home, they became different children. They laughed, played, smiled, and finally found themselves. Jenny stopped having nightmares, stopped suffering from insomnia, and her behavior improved. She no longer required any medication. Jackie stopped trembling and began to make improvements in her speech and fine motor skills. In February of 2013, the girls were placed with their grandmother, where they have continued to thrive and grow.

Despite Maria’s encouragement, the mother did not complete her service plan and her parental rights were terminated in May. Their grandmother plans to formally adopt the girls as soon as possible. While it is difficult to say what would have happened to the girls without Maria’s advocacy, it is very unlikely that they would have ever known the love and stability of their grandmother’s home. Maria did more than just provide the girls with a voice in court; she reunited their family.