Monday, June 5, 2023 was a special day for Santa Clara County justice partners and the children and families they serve. It marked the first in-person Reunification Day Celebration in three years, a collaborative event amongst the Superior Court Judiciary, Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC), Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS), Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, the Office of the County Counsel, and Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. The celebration recognized the importance of reuniting families for children in foster care and proudly honored the determination of five families in particular who overcame immense challenges to successfully achieve reunification.
The day was especially meaningful for two Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers, Linda Mitchell and Rhonda Barros, who previously worked together to support one of these families. Both were present at this momentous occasion and spoke of their continued bonds with Camryn, Liliana, and Scarlet, long after their cases closed. The girls stood with their father, David, as social worker Daisy Reyna recounted the adversity he faced beginning the formidable road to reunification during his incarceration. She recalled David’s remarkable journey throughout the last few years and praised his unwavering commitment to his daughters. David expressed pride for the recognition and his achievements, as well as his immense gratitude to his family and all those who helped make reunification possible. As many echoed throughout the day, in any given case, this is truly the outcome all parties hope for.
Judge Shawna Schwarz led a heartfelt ceremony, allowing each family to share their unique story, before recognizing David Shuster, DAC Mentor Parent Program Manager, for his dedication to bringing countless families back together. The afternoon ended with excitement as each family received a personalized gift basket, specially curated by Child Advocates staff.
“[This] event serves as a reminder that when our system performs as intended, children are returned to their parents in safe, stable and supported homes.” – Hon. Shawna Schwarz