Sunday, December 14, 2008

CASA strikes again

    In previous posts to this Blog, I've written about the serious problems with that most sacred cow of child welfare, the Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. Now, it seems, CASA has struck again. In this story, KING-TV in Seattle, the city where CASA began, documents the enormous harm done to one child, needlessly taken from her grandparents, Doug and AnneMarie Stuth. In this post, all excerpts from the story are in italics.

    The child was born to the grandparents' 16-year-old daughter. The first time the child was taken, she was placed with the grandparents.

The grandparents raised the child for months and received glowing reports. One officer of the court wrote: "She's fortunate to have her grandparents as a safety net."

    The child was returned to her mother, then taken again. But this time, the child went into what should properly be called stranger care.

The Stuths were devastated. The child's daycare providers gave them heartbreaking reports. "(They tell me) that she cries for me," Doug Stuth said. "You have no idea (how hard it is)."
    Why the difference? One reason, it seems, was CASA.

    A court-appointed advocate for the baby wrote the Stuths were selfish, hyper-critical, and were derailing their daughter's parenting efforts. One example cited over and over in legal papers: They gave the child a pacifier, or binky, which was against the young mom's wishes. "You would not believe how many times that darn binky was brought up in court and in paperwork over the stupid binky!" AnneMarie Stuth said.
    It wasn't just the CASA. Everyone was piling on – making all sorts of allegations that the television station easily disproved. Why?

The Stuths think they were flagged as trouble-makers because they complained, a lot, about what was happening. They even called their senator, Pam Roach, who rattled cages in Olympia over the case.

    That's a good bet.

    But the CASA played a particularly troubling role:

Roach lobbied to get the Stuths visits with their granddaughter. They'd been told by the child's court advocate there was a court order forbidding them to see her. But we've found there was no such court order. They should have been allowed to see her all along.

To see how the child responded when she finally got to see her grandparents again, take a look at the video on the KING-TV website, and consider what would have happened had the CASA gotten her or his way.