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Advocate Impact: Phyllis Hall

CASA Advocate, Phyllis Hall’s first case involved a large family with 6 children (a 17 yr. old, 16 yr. old twins,  a 15 yr. old, 13 yr. old, and a 10 yr. old). 

Child Protective Services (CPS) became involved with the family after Jason made an outcry stating his mother smoked marijuana daily and kept drugs in her room.  The mother also had mental health issues that were not being addressed.  The Mother was so upset that she left Jason with a family friend, named Cathy, without any plans to return or care for him.  Jason, who was 15 yrs. old, experienced repeated abuse and neglect because he was born as a result of a rape. The Mother always told Jason that it was not her responsibility to address his needs because he was the cause of all of her problems. 

The impact Phyllis made on these children’s lives became evident immediately after she was assigned to the case. Jason remained with the family friend and the other siblings were placed at Boysville, a children’s shelter. After visiting Jason, it was apparent to Phyllis that Cathy was neither in favor of sibling visits or phone contact between them nor visits from the CASA advocate. It troubled Phyllis immensely when Cathy informed her that Jason was having trouble sleeping and might require medication but then Jason told her that he was, in fact, sleeping well.  Through Phyllis’ advocacy and collaboration with CPS and the ad litem Jason was not placed on medication.

Phyllis was also concerned that Jason was doing chores in the home that were overwhelming for him. Residing in Cathy’s home with Jason, was a baby girl, 2 boys and a little girl. Jason was required to prepare the bottles for the baby, clean the windows and do all the laundry.  Jason was also experiencing difficulties at school and was failing English and Science. To make matters worse he was also suspended for 3 days for fighting. During this suspension Cathy had agreed to pick up Jason’s work from school which was critical to raising his 6 week failing grades. When she did not follow through, Phyllis picked up the homework from school for Jason to make sure he had the chance to succeed. The suspension also prompted Cathy to inappropriately punish Jason by not allowing him to visit with his siblings or have phone contact.   Due to the concerns about Jason’s placement Phyllis recommended to the Judge that Jason should be moved and placed with his siblings at Boysville.  Phyllis’ involvement, knowledge and concerns in this case was instrumental in the Judge’s decision. The Judge ordered that Jason be moved and placed with siblings at Boysville. Phyllis also advocated for Jason to have a psychological evaluation and therapy and as a result both were ordered by the Judge.

Phyllis continues to work with the girls (Jan, Lisa, and Becky) on becoming more cooperative and mature since they lack basic interpersonal skills. This causes them to argue and behave poorly when they do not get their way. Phyllis believes the children have been terribly neglected and must be taught the proper way to express themselves; thus she models, and demonstrates more appropriate ways to express themselves.   This has impacted Lisa, who has low self-esteem. She has scars from chronic scratching from the scabies that she used to have due to physical neglect. She has stated that she wants to change “everything about herself”.  Phyllis worked diligently to help raise Lisa’s self-esteem and self-image.

Phyllis has made a huge difference in these children’s lives. Phyllis is determined to expand the children’s views of the opportunities in their community so that the children’s future is a product of the decisions they make rather than a product of their circumstances. The children have now been exposed to such places as the NcMay Art Museum, the ballet, Matisse: Life in Color exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art, & the Cheesecake Factory. If it were not for her advocacy, the children might still be in separate placements, have limited sibling contact, and very limited exposure to activities/experiences in their community.  Thanks to the tireless advocacy of their CASA these children now have been empowered.  They understand that they have the power to make something of their futures and the support and love of their CASA.