At just four years old, Olivia was placed in the foster care system due to domestic violence in the home. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Olivia was paired with Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer, Letty. Although their first encounter was socially distanced, their connection was instantaneous. As Letty recalls, “it felt right from the beginning.”
Letty had a granddaughter the same age as Olivia and saw many similarities between the two girls. However, she was able to notice key differences in their development. She was determined to find ways to help accelerate Olivia’s progress to hit key speech and language milestones and independence in self-care. This included expanding Olivia’s vocabulary and working on vital skills such as potty training and healthy eating. Built on a foundation of trust, the two quickly developed a strong relationship. Letty took advantage of the many partnerships Child Advocates offers CASAs. She signed up for free membership to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo and the Children’s Discovery Museum—or “The Purple Museum,” as Olivia calls it. Letty also enrolled Olivia in swimming lessons and regularly took her to the library to engender a love of reading. With Letty’s guidance, Olivia built healthy new habits that will benefit her as she grows.
Letty also worked tirelessly to advocate for Olivia outside of their time together. Regular communication with Olivia’s social worker ensured that Letty was aware of the latest developments in the case. As a single parent herself, Letty was able to build a bond with Olivia’s mother and support her parenting journey. Letty cheered her on as she completed the requirements for Olivia’s case, such as completing preparations for enrolling her daughter in school, setting up appointments for overdue vaccinations and encouraging necessary dental and medical appointments before Olivia entered kindergarten. In the Court, Letty reported to the judge how happy Olivia was at home and spoke of her continued growth, noting her broader vocabulary and attainment of age-appropriate developmental milestones.
Today, Olivia is a healthy, thriving five-year-old. Her court case is now closed, and she has been reunified with her mother and siblings. Letty not only remains in contact with Olivia’s family, but she has also introduced Olivia to her own family. Olivia and Letty’s granddaughter have become fast friends, and as Letty puts it, “she’s a part of my family”—simple as that.
This story is a recently closed Dependency Court Case. The photos and story are shared with the permission of Letty and Olivia’s legal guardian. An alias was used to preserve the privacy of the child.