The mission of Lone Star CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is to recruit, train, & support community volunteers as Guardians ad Litem to advocate for the best interests of children of Rockwall & Kaufman Counties who have been removed from home & come into the foster care system with an opened court case due to abuse or neglect. The goal-a CASA for every child in need in the program area to provide guidance & support until he/she is placed in a safe, permanent home, free of abuse.
The Lone Star CASA program is in its 26th year of recruiting, training, and supporting the work of CASA volunteers assigned to children in need in the two-county program area. During fiscal year 2015, the primary goal had been attained - ALL the children in foster care moved through the court system with a CASA to guide, support, and be their voice in court! The organization has maintained this primary goal and last fiscal-year, FY-2017, 218 children had the benefit of moving through a court case with the support of a CASA.
Three little brothers-Mark, 5; Matthew, 3; and Mike, 2-were removed from their home and placed in CPS care. A Lone Star CASA volunteer was assigned as a Guardian ad Litem and thus began a long journey before the course of their lives would be changed and they would find a loving home.
Upon removal from their home the boys lived with their grandmother for almost a year before being returned to the care of their mother in a monitored return. The mother was soon deemed unable to care for them and the boys were again removed from home and placed in a foster home. Shortly after the three brothers arrived, the foster home closed and they were on the move again to their second foster home, all the time under the concerned and caring guidance of their CASA.
Shortly thereafter it was determined that a monitored return to Mom would be given one more trial. Under the careful observation of the CASA advocate it was soon decided that the mother was not capable of properly caring for her three sons and they were moved again, this time to their third foster home. For the second time in their foster home experience that home also closed and the boys were off to their fourth foster home.
The only friendly face and the only consistent presence in their life was that of the concerned CASA advocate who was deeply involved in working to get these brothers into a loving home with a sense of permanency. The advocate could not, however, visit the boys as often as desired and the experience of multiple moves from foster home to foster home was affecting their behavior. As a result of this perceived misbehavior, the boys were moved again to their fifth foster home.
There were, however, some high points in their lives. Their CASA held a birthday party for Mark, his first ever party, and he was excited! And when Matthew graduated from kindergarten his CASA was there. He beamed throughout the ceremony as he saw her sitting in the audience. In school, at times the boys needed valentines or Easter baskets so as not to be left out of holiday activities and, again, their CASA was there to help and support them every time.
Life was improving, but that wasn't to last. A well-meaning couple attempted to work out an adoption, but after a month it was apparent it wouldn't work and couldn't be finalized. Mark was devastated, but his CASA consoled and comforted him and shared his sorrow. As they sat and talked they would draw a picture of what a home should look like for him and his CASA promised that they would look for that home until one was found.
School was difficult for the Mark and Matthew boys and regardless of the timeless efforts of their CASA to help them settle down, they were considered to be troublesome. Then, their CASA had helped in interesting a second couple of adoption-motivated parents and, finally, success! The boys were adopted. It's working out well and appears to become the permanent home of these three siblings. In fact, Mark has been heard to tell his CASA, "We don't need to draw a picture of home anymore, we've found one."