Every child is unique.  Therefore, every CASA case is unique.  A typical case would involve a parent who loves his/her child/ren but the family's circumstances have lead to court involvement.  Sometimes the parent is struggling with substance abuse.  Sometimes poor decision making involves criminal activity and the parent is incarcerated. 

The following story details an actual Mahoning County CASA case.  For confidentiality reasons, the mother's name has been changed.

A young mother with four small girls was living in a modest home in Youngstown.  The mom, Jenny, grew up in a middle class neighborhood with well educated, loving parents.  During Jenny's teen years, she began smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.  She became sexually active and became a mom at 17 years of age.  She began abusing cocaine and by the time she was 25, she had three more children and was using heroin.  Occasionally she would get a job and try to stay clean, but it never lasted.   Her parents helped her financially for the sake of their grandchildren.   The father of the children was also abusing drugs and was homeless.

As the heroin took over her life, she began stealing to support her habit.  One day she and her live-in  boyfriend got into a physical altercation and she called the police.  When the police arrived, they found the four little girls living in a home littered with used syringes and empty bags of heroin.

Jenny went to jail.   Children Services was called to care for the children.     The children admitted that while they were living with Jenny they were hungry and would ask the neighbors for food.  Sometimes Jenny and her boyfriend would lock them in the basement while they used drugs.  In spite of all that, the girls missed their mom and wanted to be with her.

When Children Services and the juvenile court became involved with the family, a CASA volunteer was appointed.  She read the Children Services files, the court files and the police records.  She met the children, Jenny and the girls' father.  In order for Jenny to get custody of the children, she had to prove that she could get clean and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.  The CASA volunteer stayed in contact with the children and the parents to monitor the situation.   Eventually, Jenny was able to get clean and prove that she could stay that way.   She got a job and was able to take care of herself.  When Jenny was able to care for herself and her children, the CASA volunteer recommended that she regain custody of the girls.  It would be in the girls' best interest to go home to live with their mother. The volunteer presented a written recommendation to the magistrate in a juvenile court hearing and the magistrate granted custody to Jenny.
Contact Mahoning County CASA at 330.740.2239