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Advocate Impact - Nikki Orsak

Nikki Orsak was sworn in as a CASA Volunteer on August 1st, 2014 and was assigned to her first case shortly thereafter.  The case involved two young children, Janice a 6 year old first grader and Roger a 5 year old kindergartener.  They had come to live with their paternal grandparents after CPS took custody of them due to their parents’ use of drugs and they were being seriously neglected.  

While Nikki methodically assessed the needs of the children she began to develop trusting relationships with the parents, grandparents and children during a time when they were all adjusting to the changes brought about by the involvement of CPS in their lives.

Nikki assisted the grandparents in getting the children their immunizations updated, obtain eye glasses and get speech therapy for Janice.  She also encouraged both the mom and the dad to address their drug habit and to use the resources made available to them by CPS.  Both mom and dad showed an early determination to turn their lives around but while dad began to make steady progress, the mother was not able to break free of her addiction.  Nikki diligently observed parent child visitation and became concerned that the mom was coming to visits while under the influence of drugs.  She brought this to the attention of the CPS caseworker who had the mom tested following the a hearing.  The results confirmed Nikki’s suspicions. 

Nikki also noticed that the therapy for the children was not meeting the needs of the children.  She identified that the first therapist assigned was repeatedly cancelling appointments causing a serious delay in their needs being met.  She alerted the caseworker to this situation and she was able to bring in a new therapist who met regularly with both children and helped them adjust more quickly.

Roger seemed to have a speech delay when Nikki first began meeting with the family so she took a close look at his educational needs.  She first noticed that he did not have an educational passport file and she pushed on CPS to rectify that and she assisted the grandparents in putting in the needed information.  In the process she noticed that the previous year’s teacher for the older child had recommended a speech evaluation be conducted.  Despite getting resistance from the school Nikki advocated to get the evaluation completed.  It found that his mispronunciations would best be addressed in the classroom.  To support the efforts of the classroom teacher Nikki began to read to the child and to encourage the grandparents to do so as well.  His language is now much clearer. 

Nikki’s interventions helped the family to more effectively meet the needs of the children.  The dad eventually made so much progress getting a job and staying clean that Nikki advocated for his joining his children at his father’s home.  His presence there further stabilized the family.  Based on the dad’s progress Nikki was happy to advocate that his children were returned to his custody while he continued to reside with them.  The judge agreed with her conclusion and the father now has his parental rights restored and he continues to work and live a drug free life style.