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Advocate Impact: Kaila Ruan

Jackie (15), Matthew (13), Isaiah (11), and Ruby (8) have been in CPS care since 2013. When Kaila Ruan was assigned this Permanent Managing Conservatorship case in September 2016, the caseworker reiterated that the eldest child, 14-year-old Jackie, had been in Laurel Ridge for 3 months. Jackie was labelled as “aggressive” and “belligerent”, but the caseworker believed a CASA could best help by bonding with Jackie to make her next placement easier for her. Jackie’s half siblings Matthew, Isaiah, and Ruby were on a monitored return with their biological Father who was staying at Salvation Army Emergency Shelter.

With Jackie in a Residential Treatment Center, she seldom had visits from anyone including her siblings. Kaila immediately stepped in to advocate for sibling visits—even obtaining the phone number of a CPS transporter so these visits would occur if she herself was unable to facilitate these visits. Although her siblings’ father is not her own Biological Father, Jackie still considers him her Father and she is very bonded to all of them. Kaila’s persistence in obtaining and maintaining regular sibling visits has greatly impacted the lives of her CASA kids and allowed them to maintain the family bond they have shared before CPS got involved in their lives.

Shortly after the holiday season, Kaila advocated for all siblings to live together under one roof. Jackie was finally placed with her family at the beginning of the year and has since thrived in her environment. Although her Stepfather’s home study was denied, Kaila believed strongly that this was the best place for the children to be: with the family they know and love. She has consistently recommended that this placement is in all of the children’s best interest, and given her evidence, the Judge has consistently agreed.

Kaila has also advocated for Jackie to remain in CPS care so she is able to take advantage of educational resources available to our foster youth: PALS and college tuition. Since Jackie is a first generation college student, Kaila has worked hard to encourage Jackie to remain in care while her siblings were dismissed in order to achieve success as she transitions into adulthood. Being half a year too young to receive these services, this was quite a feat to convince Judge to allow Jackie to stay in care!

Kaila has not only used her background in education to advocate for Jackie—she has also used her knowledge to empower the children’s Father to advocate for his children’s education effectively. Matthew, Isaiah, and Ruby had special education needs prior to this CPS case and were not receiving the extra help they needed in their new school. Kaila contacted the schools to inform them of the services the children qualified for and empowered their Father to actively seek and understand these services his children required to not fall behind educationally. Kaila consistently reminded the school of the children’s legal obligations to their education services and was able to put these services back into place for the children.

The impacts Kaila has made on these children and their family unit has directly affected their futures. She has developed an amazing rapport with the family; not only in assisting their family unit in navigating their future, but also empowering their caregivers to take action, and mediating disagreements between family members. Kaila has been on the front lines for this family since she was assigned this case. Thanks to Kaila, a foster youth is empowered to take charge of her bright future, and the family unit is able to be complete and whole as they once were before.

Advocate Impact: Kaila Ruan