ProKids Executive Director Tracy Cook: “Along with ProKids CASA Managers and attorneys, I have the joy of seeing CASAs’ energy, imagination, and commitment: the energy to become a CASA and take action on behalf of our children, the imagination of a better life for our children, and the commitment to see things through, no matter how difficult,” Cook said. One example, she noted: “Marla’s focus on making sure Jack has support he needs to make progress at home and school.”
Marla Williams has served Jack as his CASA Volunteer since she began with ProKids two years ago. He is tall for his 7 years, freckled and red-haired.
When Marla, a former preschool teacher, met Jack, he seemed far behind his peers. What else had happened to him?
Marla found out that his mother had disciplined her small son by pushing him to the ground and hitting him.
Jack blamed himself for being separated from his mother. No wonder he didn’t seem ready to learn when he went to school.
Marla focused on how Jack could heal. With Marla’s advocacy, he started therapy and got extra help in school.
And after a succession of placements, including inpatient psychiatric care, Marla made sure his foster home was structured and stable.
In the meantime, his mother started and stopped drug treatment. His father, who was found in Florida, briefly came to Ohio and promised Jack a home. But he didn’t follow through, leaving Jack angry and longing even more for a forever family.
Marla worked with a team of therapists, teachers, caseworkers and doctors to make sure Jack had everything he needed. Marla says in the flashes of joy she sees, she knows that ProKids has made a difference.
Marla sees Jack regularly to reassure him of her commitment in a world where it must seem like everyone leaves.
Marla says she knows that ProKids gives children a chance. As she says “No matter what happens to Jack, I want to make sure someone is standing up for him.”