Fulton County CASA, Georgia
Sanchez, 8 years old
In the Fulton County foster care system, everybody knows “CASA volunteer Dee.” Since learning about the program from a colleague, Dee has been a constant presence both at the courthouse and in the lives of the children he represents.
When there is an issue with one of my kids, I react.
Dee was introduced to Sanchez by a phone call from the hospital. It was Sanchez’s mother, calling to tell Dee that she had just given birth. “She told me that I could not come see the baby—which of course fell on deaf ears, because there was no way that I wasn’t going to see how that child was doing.”
Dee was the CASA volunteer for the mother’s first three children. As an advocate for the best interests of her older children, Dee had earned her trust. But with his visit to the hospital, he alerted the staff that this new mother was the subject of an open dependency case. The newborn could not be released into his mother’s care without further investigation.
People know that I am going to fight as hard as I can for my kids.
When it came time for Sanchez to leave the hospital, he did so in the care of one foster family. Then another. As it became increasingly apparent that Sanchez would never be placed with his mother, Dee worked diligently with his volunteer supervisor to find a permanent family. Knowing that children of color tend to languish longer in foster care and worrying that the baby could develop long-term attachment issues with continued changes, Dee fought hard for Sanchez’s adoption.
Before his first birthday, Sanchez was placed with a foster mother who opened her home to foster children after her four biological children were grown. One year later, she adopted Sanchez. Of the baby born to an uncertain future, his new mother says today, “Sanchez knows love. He returns it, because he receives it.”