Day in the Life and Volunteer of the Month 

July Speak Up
Day in the Life: Leigh Hill 

My name is Leigh Hill and I have been a CASA volunteer since June 2013. I am a fifth grade teacher and recently completed graduate school obtaining my Masters in Education. I heard about CASA in my teenage years while being a member of National Charity League. I was in law school at LSU and a CASA representative spoke to a group that I was a member of about how CASA volunteers work with foster youth. I liked the idea of CASA and wanted to work with foster kids so my cousin, Laura, and I went through training together.

I have been working on the same case for four years and advocating on behalf of two young boys, Daniel and Matthew. They are the two youngest of a sibling group of four. The boys have another brother and sister. The children came into care for neglect. A neighbor reported their concerns to the authorities when the mother left all four children alone in the house on multiple occasions. At the time, the mother was struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. 
It was during my first CASA picnic with Daniel and Matthew while playing games that I realized how much I cared for them. At this point, I had been on their case for about eight months. It is through those shared moments with the boys that motivated me to stay on their case for four years. During my time as their CASA volunteer, I moved to Mississippi. I commuted to Baton Rouge to maintain our monthly face to face visits. Daniel and Matthew have been through a lot and I am proud of them as they have come so far. 

I advocated keeping all four siblings together; however, as the case progressed that did not happen. In an effort to maintain sibling bonds, another CASA volunteer, Evelyn Mitchell, has taken three of the siblings to visit their brother in his foster placement in New Orleans on at least one occasion. Monitoring the boys’ academic endeavors was also a priority in advocating for them during their time in foster care. Matthew was struggling in school so I advocated for school accommodations to secure appropriate resources.    

Daniel and Matthew were in their first foster placement for a couple of years. The foster mother was indecisive on whether she wanted to adopt the boys so this caused the boys to remain in foster care for a longer time. Eventually, the boys were moved to a second foster care placement which recently became their forever family. 

There were a couple challenges along the way in regards to the distance and maintaining communication with all parties. Being a teacher, I have limited time to make calls during business hours which hindered communication. Even during challenging moments, it is wonderful to see the boys reach a forever family especially since they waited for so long. 

Names changed for confidentiality purposes.

July Speak Up
Volunteer of the Month: M.E. Cormier

Congratulations to M.E. Cormier for being chosen as July’s Volunteer of the Month. M.E. completed training in February 2015 and accepted her first case in March 2015. M.E. is the CASA for two sisters, Kesha and Kimberly. Kesha and Kimberly came into care due to allegations of neglect/dependency. Their mother, Ms. Jones, had unaddressed mental health issues that interfered with her ability to care for the girls’ basic needs. Additionally, Ms. Jones was PEC’d which left the girls without a caretaker. As the case progressed, Kesha’s father, Mr. Miller, was committed to working his case plan. He traveled from Texas consistently to visit with Kesha, completed parenting classes that were required and other goals of his case plan. As a result of his hard work Mr. Miller gain custody of Kesha. Kimberly remained in care as Mr. Miller was not her father. Ultimately, Ms. Jones and Kimberly’s father’s parental rights were terminated due to their noncompliance with their case plans. Kimberly is placed in a certified adoptive home and currently awaiting an adoption date.     

Throughout the case M.E. continued to exceed the expectations of a CASA volunteer. M.E. remained a constant voice for Kesha and Kimberly as she advocated for their needs. She has attended all Family Team Meetings and court hearings regarding the family. M.E. met with the girls’ teachers to evaluate their behavior and performance in class. Additionally, she kept the lines of communication open with Mr. Miller and Kimberly’s foster parent to monitor their progress in the home. Moreover, M.E. encouraged and supported Ms. Jones with working her case plan; however, as time progressed, M.E. realized that even though Ms. Jones loved her girls she was not able to parent them. Ms. Jones was not able to maintain stable housing, meet her case plan goals and consistently address her mental health issues. So with a heavy heart, M.E. had to recommend that Ms. Jones’ parental rights be terminated to Kimberly.  

To M.E, thank you for your tireless dedication to Kesha and Kimberly. At times your case was rough, but it was your steadfast commitment and loving spirit that kept you moving to make certain that Kesha and Kimberly have safe and permanent homes. I know that there have been times when your dedication to Kesha and Kimberly has called you away from your family and as you were in the process of rebuilding your own home, you never lost focus on Kesha and Kimberly’s needs. Thank you for being an awesome and caring person that you are! I am so happy that Kesha and Kimberly have you in their life! 

Proud Advocate Supervisor,
Ricketta Cotton-Monroe

Names changed for confidentiality purposes. 

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