Six-year-old Kayla and her younger brother Jacob rarely had enough to eat. Her clothes were worn and dirty and her shoes were too small. Kayla often stayed home from first grade to baby-sit her brother. She missed so many days of school that her teacher reported her as truant and called 241-KIDS.
When the caseworker arrived at the home, she found Kayla and Jacob alone. It was February, and there was very little food in the house. The heat had been turned off. There was no family in the area and no support except for mom’s new boyfriend with a long and violent criminal history. Many domestic violence police calls had been made to the home. Kayla’s mother was depressed and completely overwhelmed. Since there were no relatives or friends to help with the children, Kayla and Jacob were placed in foster care.
Nancy, a ProKids CASA volunteer, was heartbroken when she met Kayla and her brother in the new foster home. They were sitting quietly on the couch, not attempting to talk to anyone. They looked scared and sad. The foster parents were concerned with Kayla’s behavior. It did not take long to learn mom’s new boyfriend was sexually abusing Kayla while she was at work. The boyfriend was arrested and Kayla’s mother broke off all contact with him.
Nancy had a lot of work to do. She worked closely with ProKids Steps to Peace Program to get services for the mother and children. She put the family in touch with a local organization that helps families find appropriate housing, childcare, and support. She advocated strongly for the services Kayla would need to heal – therapy and educational assistance. Nancy advocated for Jacob’s development to be evaluated and for him to get the services he needed. Nancy monitored the criminal prosecution of the boyfriend. Their mother cooperated fully and was eager to do anything to get her children back. The children were allowed supervised visits and it became clear to Nancy as she observed these visits that the children needed to be with her.
Today, Kayla and her brother are back with their mother. Nancy reports that they live in a comfortable, safe apartment and attend school regularly. Their mother continues to receive the support she needs to maintain a safe home for them. Kayla’s smile is back.
We share stories of our children so that our community can understand why ProKids depends on a mobilized community. We change the names of the children, and sometimes of adults involved, and use stock photos out of respect for their dignity and privacy. The stories themselves, however, are true.