Day in the Life and Volunteer of the Month 

May Speak Up
Day in the Life: Alexis Breedlove 

My name is Alexis Breedlove, and I have been a CASA volunteer for over two years. I have been an attorney for over ten years and work at Kean Miller, LLP, in downtown Baton Rouge. I have three children ages 18, 14, and 3. My practice as an attorney and my experience as a mother are what drew me to become a CASA volunteer. 

I first heard of CASA while deposing a witness in one of my cases. After the deposition, we discussed her experience as a CASA volunteer. At this time in my life, I was contemplating what else I could do to give back to the community. This conversation sparked my interest in the program, but I was hesitant to get involved due to the time commitment. Shortly after this encounter, I was called for jury duty. A CASA representative gave a presentation about becoming a volunteer during jury duty. I saw her presentation as the sign and the push I needed to move forward and become a CASA volunteer. 

Immediately after completing my CASA training, I was assigned a case with a newborn named Josh whose mother, Monica, was an addict and had left Josh at the hospital before naming him. Josh was immediately placed into foster care with a loving couple who had previously fostered. The foster couple was willing and wanting to adopt Josh despite having suffered the pain of losing a prior foster child. 

I was warned by my CASA supervisor that these cases can take many unexpected twists and turns. For example, biological parents or grandparents may not be discovered until months after the child has been in care. This seemed unimaginable to me at the time; however, I quickly learned what she meant. 

When Josh’s case began, he was referred to by the first name given to him by the delivery nurse and the last name of the man thought to be the father, Brad. Brad denied being Josh’s biological father and refused to submit to a paternity test. Brad’s parents were skeptical and were not in a position to care for Josh. 

Monica’s addiction was preventing her from working the case plan, and appearing at visitations and court hearings. Monica’s parents had also indicated that they could not care for Josh. Things were starting to move toward adoption when suddenly Monica admitted that a different man, Kyle, was likely Josh’s father. 

Kyle accepted Josh and a paternity test confirmed that he was Josh’s father. Having just learned that Josh was his child, Kyle was provided time to work his own case plan. Kyle’s father was even willing to help Kyle care for Josh. During this time, I advocated for additional supervision and safety measures during visitations and for pre-visit confirmation from the biological parents. However, after only a few months, Kyle’s addiction was revealed. Kyle was incarcerated and no longer able to focus on Josh. 

Months passed and neither Monica nor Kyle had accomplished the goals set out by the case plan and neither was appearing for visitation. With much emotion and selflessness, Kyle surrendered his rights. Monica’s rights were terminated by the court. 

Josh was adopted by his foster parents in February 2017 shortly before his second birthday. Josh’s first and last names have now been changed to memorialize his place in his new family. 

To my surprise, being a CASA volunteer was an adjustment from my role as an attorney and from my role as a mother. I had to remember that I was not there as Josh’s attorney but as his supporter. I had to push aside my desire to see change immediately. I had to come to terms with the possibility that Josh may have ended up with his biological parents even if I did not think that was the best situation for him. Most importantly, I had to learn how to be patient with the system and keep my faith. I could not have done any of this without the patience and support of my CASA supervisor. I am very proud to be a CASA volunteer. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet and get to know Josh, and I look forward to my next case. 

Names changed for confidentiality purposes. 

May Speak Up
Volunteer of the Month: Chester Burnett

Congratulations to Chester Burnett for being chosen as Volunteer of the Month for May 2017. Mr. Burnett completed his training in October 2016 and was assigned his first case in December 2016. Mr. Burnett was assigned to a two-year-old child named Brandon. Brandon came into care in November 2016 due to neglect by his biological father, Mr. Black. 

It was reported that Mr. Black met an unknown man at the park who provided him with heroin in the presence of his child. Mr. Black had an adverse reaction to the heroin. A worker in the area, tried to help and assist Mr. Black. The worker took Brandon out of the car and called the police. EMS was called and Mr. Black was hospitalized. After Mr. Black's hospitalization, he was arrested. DCFS had concerns about Brandon’s mother, Ms. Sanders, ability to care for him as well. 

When Brandon came into care, CASA quickly noticed there was a problem with Brandon’s walking as he walked on his knees. As the CASA volunteer, Mr. Burnett advocated for Early Steps to get involved to help with the issue of not being able to walk. The child was evaluated by Early Steps and it was determined that Brandon did not have any physical limitations. Early Steps immediately started working with Brandon once a week where he received occupational and physical therapy while he was in a foster home.  

As for Brandon’s mother, Ms. Sanders, she admitted herself into a residential treatment program for sixty days. In April 2017, Brandon was returned to the custody of his mother with six months of supervision with DCFS and CASA.

Mr. Burnett is a superb CASA volunteer. He attended all court hearings, and family team conferences. He turned in all monthly reports and met with Brandon monthly. Mr. Burnett made big strides in working his CASA case. Brandon’s parents became very comfortable with Mr. Burnett and are receptive to him coming to their place of residence. When the child was returned back to his parents, it was Mr. Burnett who actually went to the motel. Mr. Burnett stated, “I went to make sure Brandon was okay.” That made me proud as a supervisor because he could have waited on someone to go with him, but his heart told him to go.

Since the beginning, Mr. Burnett was actively involved in his case. He consistently visited the foster home, monitored the visits between mother and child, and ensured the mother followed up with Early Steps in regards to Brandon’s motor skill development. Mr. Burnett developed a great working relationship with the mother, father and the DCFS case manager. Mr. Burnett visited the mother while she was in treatment and he made sure she was working. Mr. Burnett talked with all parties involved in this case including the housing facility where the mother lived.  

I am extremely proud to honor Mr. Burnett as our May Volunteer of the Month. Congratulations Mr. Burnett on a job well done!!

Proud Advocate Supervisor,
                    Sheila Gross   

Names changed for confidentiality purposes. 

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