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Advocate Impact:  Melissa VanDeWalle’s Story

CASA Volunteer, Melissa VanDeWalle’s, case includes two young ladies – 14 year old Daisy and 10 year old McKenzie. The mother on this case had extensive mental health issues and was no longer taking her prescribed medication.  Instead, she was using illegal drugs.  Her behaviors became erratic and unmanageable, and she threatened to hurt someone.  When the girls’ father failed to keep them safe as he had promised to do, and a report of alleged sexual abuse by a male relative in the same residence was made, Child Protective Services (CPS) became further involved and the girls were removed from their home.

Melissa was appointed to this case two weeks later.  Within 24 hours of signing on, Melissa began to advocate for these children.  She contacted the CPS Caseworker and all assigned attorneys and began to address concerns. Within 72 hours, she met and talked with the relative placement and the children. Soon enough, she was able to establish a trusting relationship with both of them.

Melissa has made several impacts on the case and has been instrumental in arranging for needed services and appropriate placement for the children.  

She worked cooperatively with relatives and arranged for kinship payment to be expedited in a timely fashion to help better solidify the placement and ensure that it was not jeopardized due to financial or emotional stressors. Melissa also quickly began to address educational issues with school personnel, researching and finally obtaining summer tutoring services, as well as nutritional counseling and support to assist one of the girls with her weight loss goals. She also partnered with the girls’ therapist and provided updates on issues Daisy and McKenzie were facing to make certain that their treatment plan was both proper and effective.

When Melissa learned that the mother was denied SSI disability, she quickly began working to help her explore different avenues for assistance with mental health services and financial support.  Over the past several months, she has also made sure that all parties involved in the case are well informed and equipped with the information needed to help make decisions that are in the best interest of the children.

Perhaps most significantly, Melissa has modeled positive behavior for the girls during their time together. Her tireless advocacy on behalf of Daisy and McKenzie has been remarkable. She is always willing to go above and beyond to help the girls, providing support wherever it is needed and making their well being her priority. Without her on this case, it is difficult to imagine so many positive things happening in such a short amount of time.   

Advocate Impact:  Melissa VanDeWalle’s Story