When 6-year-old Kayla came in for an interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center, multiple calls to the abuse hotline had already been placed on her behalf. The allegations involved neglect by her father. When the investigation began it was unclear if the neglect allegation was valid, or if it was raised because of a custody battle.
The Children’s Advocacy Alliance approaches all cases with the single agenda of what is best for the child. With this in mind an interview was set up.
When Kayla arrived at our Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) she was scared and frightened. She knew something was going on, but was not sure who she could trust. Without our Center, Kayla would have gone to the police station. Instead, she came to our Center where she was greeted by our Family Advocate who held her hand and led her to a cozy waiting room with couches, books, and a fish tank.
Once Kayla was comfortable, she was interviewed by our Forensic Interviewer while DHS workers watched on closed circuit television. The interview, specially designed to not feel like an interrogation, made Kayla feel comfortable by drawing with her and calmly talking with her about her family life at home. In this neutral, fact-finding interview, Kayla disclosed that when she’s at her father’s house there is no food, she is left alone for hours, and when he is home he is often drunk. DHS workers, observing the interview, decided it was not safe for Kayla to be returned to her father and a dependency/neglect case was opened.
Kayla was assigned a CASA advocate who became responsible for ensuring her best interests and that a safe, permanent home is found as quickly as possible. During the next year, as Kayla remained in foster care while her father worked to regain custody, her CASA advocate was a constant and consistent presence in her life. Her advocate called or visited Kayla once a week, attended all case review and court hearings, and kept in contact with Kayla’s father to ensure he was following through with his court-ordered AA meetings and parenting classes.
At the same time, our Family Advocate who was the first person to greet Kayla at our Center, had arranged counseling for Kayla, and kept up with Kayla’s case by keeping track of her father’s criminal case.
After a year, the judge decided that because Kayla’s father had followed through with his parenting classes and AA meetings she could return to his care. With the diligent cooperation from both the CAC and CASA, Kayla left foster care and was reunited with her father.
The Children’s Advocacy Center provided a neutral and safe environment that allowed DHS and our staff to work together to provide what was best for Kayla. CASA was able to swiftly get an advocate on the case to ensure Kayla’s happiness and well-being.