*To protect the children in our program, names and photographs do not represent the people in this story.

CARLOS, MIGUEL & RICK

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Carlos, age 11, and Miguel, age 12, moved to Oregon with their single mother and couldn’t find a place to live. Over a three year period they lived in 7 different motels, a shelter and other unlikely places. They carried their few belongings in a suitcase and at times, did not have access to most basic needs like food, baths or clothing. Never putting roots down made it impossible to form lasting friendships or go to school on a regular basis. When the boys did attend school, it wasn’t uncommon for them to wear clothes that didn’t fit and sometimes smelled of urine and feces.

 

Life looked grim when DHS removed the boys from their mother after one was found looking for food in the garbage at school. While waiting in a temporary shelter for a Judge’s decision about where they would go next, their mother disappeared. Then the boys were assigned Rick, their CASA advocate.

 

Rick visited the boys at the shelter every week. While investigating their case, he found the boys' father in Arizona who was unaware of his sons’ living conditions. He had been paying child support via Western Union but did not know Carlos & Miguel had been removed from their mother’s care. Distraught, he called Rick to say he was willing to fly to Oregon and do whatever it took to gain custody of his sons.

 

Rick contiued to work through the court and DHS and was instrumental in reuniting the boys with their father within three months. Carlos & Miguel are now living together as a family out of state.

 

Story by the numbers:

Without a CASA, the boys at this age would have likely stayed in shelter care. Estimating 2 years in hard costs for this type of care, Rick’s work saved the state $329,944 ($82,486 a year per child).

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Photography ©Lars Topelmann