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Teryn Thornton

Hi, I’m Teryn Thornton! I became a CASA volunteer in September 2022. I can’t remember how I found out about CASA, but once I did, I knew I wanted to be a volunteer. I work at LSU as a Data Analyst for the Biological Sciences department, but I’ve always loved working with kids. Although my career is in IT, I volunteer with kids outside of my job (usually tutoring). Outside of volunteering I like to spend lots of time with my family, crochet, and travel. My most recent trip was to Seoul, South Korea. I also love hanging out with my dog, Luckie.


Since becoming a volunteer I’ve only had one case that was assigned to me shortly after I finished training. I was assigned four kids as a new volunteer! I was nervous, but up for the challenge. My case involved four sisters (13, 10, 8, 3) who came into care after it was reported that the oldest, “Bridget”, was allegedly being abused by her youngest sister’s father who was living with them. The abuse had apparently been going on for a couple of years and the mother didn’t act on her suspicion because was trying to “catch him.” The girls were all placed in separate foster homes, with “Bridget” being hospitalized initially. Once I met the girls, I realized how close they were and their need to be together. Thankfully shortly after, the mother’s godmother completed steps to foster the girls together. Once they were placed with Ms. Sheila, I was in communication regularly with her to make sure the girls were doing okay and that the older 3 were getting the therapy they needed. I was able to visit the girls all together and play games with them. I took them to a Christmas village as well and kept in contact with their mom to make sure she was following her case plan. She was making progress, slowly but surely. She was not able to do things as quickly because she was pregnant and about to give birth to her 5th child.


Unfortunately, the girls were all separated again in January, so my main goal was to have them reunited, whether that be with their mother or in the same foster home. I didn’t think the reason they were removed from Ms. Sheila’s home was substantial, so I spoke up in court. I believe the girls being separated again did make the judge want to get them back to their mom quicker, but she didn’t have housing yet. Since they were separated, I tried to find activities to do for them to be able to see each other, outside of their DCFS office visits. I was able to take 3 of the girls to the zoo, thanks to CASA sponsors, and took “Emily” to the LSU Girls’ Day at the Museum. As of me writing this, the mom has found housing and currently has all the girls until the next court hearing. I am happy the girls are reunited, but I am worried about the mom’s ability to care for all of them together. I want to keep in touch with her but lately she has not been responsive to my texts. I am hoping she will continue to accept help once her case is closed.


The most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer and working specifically on this case has been the relationship I have formed with the girls. They’ve come to view me as someone they can talk to and share things with over the past few months. I have enjoyed giving the girls positive experiences and learning more about their individual personalities. Something that has been challenging to me is seeing how separation affects siblings in care and learning that I can’t help everybody. I have learned that in doing community work, but I thought parents with kids in the system would be more receptive to help. I’ve had to learn to work with a variety of personalities through interacting with parents, foster parents, DCFS staff, and everyone else I contact. This has not deterred me in wanting to continue to be a CASA volunteer, as I have just been assigned to my second case, because I want to continue to make a difference in a child’s life.


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