Child Advocates of Silicon Valley

Helping Foster Youth Navigate the Dependency System

Tuesday, Apr 3, 2018

Helping Foster Youth Navigate the Dependency System

There are many services available for foster youth such as counseling, health education, and job related services. However, navigating all of the choices and making appointments can become overwhelming for a young person.  Our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) can attend monthly discussion groups and educational seminars to learn how to better communicate and engage with their teens to take advantage of these services. Mary’s story is a good example:

When Mary entered the foster care system, she had trust issues, particularly with adults. Mary had been molested by her stepfather and again by her father. It’s no wonder she didn’t trust anyone. When Mary first met her CASA Jade, the 14-year-old was shut-off from others, did not like to follow rules and thought she had all the answers in life. Mary did not want help with schoolwork, did not want to go to counseling and was not interested in spending time with her CASA.

Jade turned to her CASA Specialist for help and attended monthly discussion groups for insight into how to break through Mary’s walls. She employed some of the tactics suggested by the discussion group leader. Most recently, Jade accessed materials on our new CASA Resources section of our website. Jade kept in touch with Mary, texting and calling the teen and seeing her whenever she could.

“My goal was to let Mary know I was there for her, no matter what,” Jade says. I wanted her to know I couldn’t easily be pushed away.” Little by little, Mary began trusting Jade.

When she was 16 and placed in a foster home in which she was extremely unhappy, it was Jade Mary called and opened up to. With Jade’s help, Mary moved into a transitional home for teens, which suited her lifestyle better.

While Mary likes her new housing situation, she is now responsible for getting herself to school two cities away from where she lives and buying her own food on a budget of $60 a week. Jade talked with Mary about making a budget so she would have enough money for food every week and brought her shampoo and other hygiene products from our CASA store. Jade also helped Mary get her drivers permit and an ID card – two goals Mary worked hard on that left her feeling very accomplished.

Today, Mary’s attitude has improved tremendously. She is learning to follow rules, willing to access helpful services and is setting goals for herself. She has even agreed to try therapy to help her work through her trauma and anger toward her father and stepfather. Mary had a part-time job during the holidays and plans to get a part-time summer job as well. She is in on track to graduate from high school next May. Mary has hope for the future, and she is planning to attend community college after graduation.


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