“It’s cases like this that are the reason CASA exists,” says CASA Case Supervisor, DeAnn Zamora. She’s talking about a Dependency & Neglect case involving two teenage girls. The case had been open for years and involved a myriad of issues, including drugs, violence, and suspected trafficking. The girls’ mother eventually moved out-of-state, leaving the young women, in many respects, to fend for themselves. Having experienced a tumultuous childhood, the girls mistrusted “the system” and had never had a stable adult presence in their life.
A new CASA volunteer, “Heidi,” was assigned to the case. Case Supervisor, DeAnn, describes Heidi as a go-getter, excited, and engaged. Heidi and the girls began developing a relationship; they got to know one another and trust each other. Throughout the pandemic, Heidi stayed connected with them, advocating for their best interests.
Heidi and her Peer Coordinator had taken the Fostering Futures class, where they learned about resources for system-involved youth—resources like mental health services, housing assistance, and job training. For a child about to turn 18, these resources could be life-changing. Unfortunately, these resources are only available to children in custody of the county, which neither teenager was.
Heidi passionately advocated for the oldest girl’s custody to be transferred to the county so they could access these critical resources in their transition to adulthood. On the eve of the oldest child’s 18th birthday, the Guardian Ad Litem filed an emergency motion to grant this request. The motion was approved! “Without [Heidi’s] intervention, and the guidance of her Peer Coordinator, that child very well could have ended up homeless,” says DeAnn. “The whole trajectory of that 18 year-old’s life has changed!”
What an amazing example of how one adult can change a child’s story.