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CASA Volunteer Advocates for Teen with Autism to Achieve Permanency

From National CASA/GAL:

SEATTLE, Washington – Thomas* is a youth who has had a long history with the child-welfare system since the time he was 7 years old. His mother required long-term psychiatric treatment, and due to Thomas’ autistic symptoms and at times unmanageable behavior, she was unable to maintain a safe and stable home for her son. After 56 referrals to child-protective services, Thomas’ mom surrendered her parental rights. During this same year, his father died of cancer.

Thomas experienced failed guardianship placements with an aunt and uncle, as well as his grandparents in Florida. None of his relatives knew how to manage his behavioral issues and special educational needs. At the age of 13, Thomas was returned to New Jersey and placed in a non-relative foster home with two dads. This is where he met his CASA volunteer, Anthony*.

Anthony, a very experienced CASA volunteer with CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties in New Jersey, was able to establish a friendly, trusting and professional relationship with both Thomas and his foster dads during their first meeting. Anthony quickly became a frequent visitor to the home and an avid advocate for Thomas. His communication and relationship-building skills brought several important stakeholders together as part of Thomas’ team. Thomas’ foster parents sent weekly emails to the full team with updates on his progress and needs. When frustrations occurred and services were not adequate, Anthony’s supportive and encouraging nature helped ease tensions to bring back the focus on what was in Thomas’ best interest.

Read the full article here

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