CASA volunteers work with New Hampshire’s most fragile children.
Many enter the system bruised and frightened, having suffered traumatic violence. Others come to the Court’s attention after witnessing domestic disputes, or a parent’s arrest. Still more have been neglected, going to school each day hungry and without clean clothes.
There is no typical case of child abuse; no easy way to categorize our children or their families. Like the CASA volunteers assigned to work with them, each has a unique story.*
At 6-months of age, a routine doctor’s check-up revealed an alarming case of abuse. The infant was noticeably favoring his right arm, and a subsequent x-ray displayed 6 broken bones on that side of the tiny body.
Leo’s young mother offered an excuse: he had fallen off the bed during a diaper change.
But the severity of the injuries and their various ages told doctors that this was no accident.
With no father in the picture, Leo was placed in the care of his aunt and uncle.
Jacqueline curled up under the covers to drown out the sound, while her mom and her boyfriend fought in the living room. This wasn’t their first fight, but it was definitely the loudest the 5-year old could remember.
When the police arrived that night, they took Jackie’s mom and the boyfriend into custody. They were both high, and neither could care for her. Still in her pajamas, the terrified child was brought by a social worker to a home she had never seen before.
Last winter, things were falling apart for Nixa. She had just turned 17, her step-father had recently moved into the home, and it seemed like they fought about everything. Sometimes the fights turned physical and pretty quickly, the situation spiraled out of control.
It was clear that someone would have to move out. Nixa never thought that her mom would choose her new husband over her own children, but she did. Nixa, along with her younger sister, were forced out of the home. With nowhere else to go, she went to live with family friends, sleeping in a spare bedroom. The new caregivers alerted the child protection system, and charges were soon filed.
It is at these moments when CASA volunteers step into a child’s life. They get to know each victim’s background, learn more about their caregivers, and advocate passionately for what is in their best interests. CASA cannot change what has happened to these kids, but we can re-write the ending to their stories.
*The children’s names, pictures and stories have been changed to protect their identities as required by law.