Lucas shuffled into the police station looking uncertain yet determined as only a 15-year-old can. Lucas told the desk sergeant, “I don’t want to go home!" Lucas' parents were addicted to drugs. Their behavior and the home environment drove Lucas to seek help from the police.
When Lucas appeared in family court, the judge appointed CASA to the case. Daniel became Lucas’ court appointed special advocate (CASA) while Lucas was in a group home. Daniel learned that the group home was the third placement for Lucas. He was experiencing a great deal of rapid change and adjustment in his life.
According to reports from each placement facility, Lucas was thriving and exhibiting model behavior despite the many changes he was experiencing. In addition, he was working hard in school to gain ground that he had lost during the many relocations.
Daniel was keenly aware that the adults in Lucas’ life had instilled in him a distrust of people. Daniel was determined to find a way to put Lucas at ease and develop a relationship of trust. He followed through on every commitment he made to Lucas – showing up for regular visits, doing what he said he would, and advocating for Lucas’ best interest.
To Lucas, Daniel is an oddity – an adult who is consistent, reliable, honest, and compassionate; an adult who actually does what he says he will do; an adult who spends time with him tossing a ball, playing a game, or working on a project; an adult who isn’t looking to take advantage of him; an adult who is focused on helping Lucas.
Lucas wants to become a forest ranger. Daniel found a week-long camp for teenagers interested in the park service and got busy advocating for Lucas to participate. Daniel secured a financial sponsor, obtained medical clearances from Lucas’ doctors, acquired legal clearances from caseworkers, facilitated obtaining the necessary items for camp, and worked with Lucas to stencil identification on his belongings.
One week before camp, Lucas was involved in an anger episode that resulted in police involvement. During camp, a similar incident occurred. Daniel was puzzled at the significant mood swings Lucas was exhibiting. Daniel began looking for possible triggers and discovered a recent change in Lucas’ medication which may precipitate the unexpected outbursts. Currently, Daniel is working with Lucas’ healthcare providers to determine the best medication regimen for Lucas.
Daniel is open about his involvement with CASA, “I was concerned how I could fit the time requirements of being a CASA into my busy schedule. It’s turned out to be one of those rare opportunities in life where you are giving of yourself for others, but actually get more in return.”
Lucas has decided to stay in care past 18 so he can develop the life skills necessary to function in society. Daniel’s advocacy provides Lucas what the system cannot – a consistent and compassionate adult presence; an environment of trust where honest and open exchange is possible; a voice for Lucas’ best interest.