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JULY VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH- LESLIE JEWEL

Leslie Jewel agreed to be the CASA Advocate for Trevor, now 3 years old, on 02/28/2023. Trevor had already been in care from birth along with his older brother. Both were in separate placements. I appointed Leslie to Trevor’s case since Trevor’s original CASA let me know she was not able to make the trip to see Trevor out of town but was able to maintain her CASA appointment with Tommy who lived in Baton Rouge. I let Leslie know that she would have a teammate on the case, and I would set up a meeting for them to meet.

 

Right away, Leslie reached out to Trevor’s foster mother and set up a visit. The foster mother told Leslie she was no longer interested in adopting Trevor because it was taking too long. Prior to Leslie being appointed to the case, we had concerns that the foster mother was too busy and not engaged with Trevor. A red flag for us was that she kept telling his previous CASA she did not want to care for him anymore. We informed the case manager; however, he remained in the home. Another concern was that the foster mother did not allow Leslie to visit Trevor in her home but wanted him to be seen at his daycare.

 

I knew Leslie was going to be a terrific CASA Advocate right away when her first documentation in her Optima notes gave a detailed account of her first meeting with the case manager. Leslie thoroughly recorded all the information she learned about Trevor from the DCFS file and outlined areas of concern. She learned that Trevor was said to be autistic; however, later we learned Trevor had only had a screening for autism and no official diagnosis had been made. In future court reports Leslie continued to advocate for an up-to-date evaluation and eventually an assessment for autism was ordered.

 

Trevor’s mother had cruelty to juvenile charges against Tommy and a no contact order had been put in place. Eventually, her charges were dropped and visitation with the boys was put in place. Leslie reached out to the mother to find out her plans for visiting Trevor and Tommy and to assess her status due to her unstable lifestyle. Leslie knew that consistent visitation was going to be a chance for her to reestablish a bond with both of her children and she wanted to make sure she observed their interaction.

 

It was not long before it became apparent that the mother was not going to maintain consistent visits. The few visits made were observed by Leslie so she could record her observations firsthand. After visits dropped off, Leslie was faithful to call the case manager and find out if the visits were missed and the circumstances behind the missed visits.

 

When Trevor’s foster mother finally asked for his removal, Tommy’s foster mother, also a relative, agreed to take him. At this point, Leslie and the other CASA made their visits together and Leslie quickly bonded with Tommy. When Tommy’s CASA let me know, she was no longer able to be his CASA, Leslie readily stepped up and said she would advocate for both boys.

 

Leslie was instrumental in making sure issues of concern by the foster mother were brought to the attention of the DCFS case manager as well as the court. One issue she wanted to resolve was the historical diagnosis of Trevor’s autism. Leslie was able to shed light on the need for an autism assessment by writing about Trevor’s improved language skills and social interactions.

 

When it became apparent that the agency was finally moving forward with adoption, Leslie was persistent in keeping that goal at the forefront and monitoring to make sure a TPR was filed. When the TPR trial finally took place, the DCFS case manager had to call on Leslie to review her documentation of all the missed visits by the mother and the reasons to present as evidence in court. This turned out to be key to the termination being successful.

 

Leslie has been a CASA Supervisor’s “dream come true.”  She is objective, always informs me of what is going on, keeps excellent notes in Optima, and has been a major resource for the foster parent. She was an asset to the DCFS case manager in keeping him informed by giving him up to date information on his case.

 

On 06/21/2024, Trevor and Tommy were adopted and now have a permanent home. I truly believe Leslie played a major role in this happy ending.



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