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Cori Dullnig

My name is Cori Dullnig and I work as a physical therapist at the Neuromedical Center Rehabilitation Hospital. My husband and I relocated to Baton Rouge in 2014 and I was looking for a volunteer activity when my friend suggested CASA. In September 2015, I completed training and had an overwhelming feeling that this was something I had to do.

My case involved two brothers, Damon and Carter, who entered foster care in 2015. Their mother was incarcerated and their fathers are unknown. They have three sisters that lived with other relatives during this time. Initially, the boys were placed together in a foster care home. Damon was moved because of repeated suspensions from school due to fighting.

During this time, the boys’ case plan stated that they were to spend time together and with their three sisters twice a month. Unfortunately, the only time that the boys saw each other was during my visits. The boys truly love each other. I’ll never forget the first time I took Carter to pick up his brother. He practically jumped out of the car and ran out to give Damon a huge hug. In that moment, I realized that I was truly doing something important.

The boys did well in their respective homes and in school. Damon did not get suspended from school again after transitioning to his new foster care home. He started seventh grade and was on the football team. He was excited about the season and played in the school band. Carter was in fifth grade and enjoyed playing sports and games on the phone. While this case is straight forward, there were some struggles. The boys’ visitations did not occur as written in their case plan with each other or their siblings. I saw the boys three to four times a month; however, visiting hours at the foster care home changed making it more challenging to schedule those visits. It was a priority to facilitate those visitations so that the boys could maintain their strong bond during their time in foster care.

The boy’s mother got out of jail at the end of July and the case went back to court. The boys thought that they would get to go home that day. The boys’ mother was doing well, worked on securing employment, but went back to jail in November because of a failure to appear in court. The blow of having to stay in foster care longer affected the boys, especially Damon. He started to act out once he knew he wasn’t going home and received another suspension from school at the end of the semester. Eventually, their mother was released from prison again and secured housing with a family friend. They boys returned home to their mother after Christmas.

I learned a lot from my first case about how to develop a productive relationship with my CASA kids. I learned that these children are fragile. They may seem tough and act tough on the outside, but on the inside they just want things to return to normal and to go back living with their families.

Written by Cori Dullnig, CASA Volunteer sine 2015

Names changed for confidentially purposes.


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