Jayne has always had a passion for children. She first heard about Child Advocates when she attended an Undoing Racism Speaker Series. Later she said, “I kept seeing ads about Child Advocates and what they were doing.” That combined with Jayne’s passion for race studies, race relations and diversity drew her to being a CASA Volunteer.
Jayne attended Child Advocates CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer training class with her husband Jim, who is also a CASA Volunteer, and they both received their first cases in May of 2016.
“The training had really impressed upon me the seriousness of this volunteer role. We as CASA’s and everyone involved on the child’s team can really have a huge impact on the child’s outcome. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to mess up.” said Jayne.
Jayne’s first case involved 3 children, who came into the child welfare system because the newest baby had been born drug positive. They were removed and placed in two separate foster homes. “I relied a lot on the foster families to give me the information I needed about the children and the baby. They were so young and truly unable to speak for themselves,” Jayne shared. Jayne knew she needed something creative that she could use at her visits to connect with the children. “I also came up with the idea of keeping a binder full of coloring sheets to take with me on visits so we could have a starting place for conversations. I eased my way into their lives, gathering as much information as I could. I learned a tremendous amount just going to court and listening.”
Jane described the oldest child, just 4 years old, as an empty cup that needed to be constantly filled. If it wasn’t filled properly, her behavior would be really negative, said Jayne. Additionally, the child lacked stability and within 2 years, she was placed in 7 different foster homes.
“Visits with biological parents were irregular. They’d bring them “dinner” which included cupcakes and Cheetos,” said Jayne. Parent’s behavior was sporadic. They struggled continuously with their addition. According to Jayne, “After these visits, the children would come away with poor behavior and nightmares.”
The baby was placed with a foster family who later took on the oldest daughter as well. The middle child, a brother, was placed with a different foster mom. “Both of these foster moms are amazing. They’ve made such an incredible effort for these children to know each other and they often get the kids together for visits. They are committed to keeping these children together,” said Jayne.
These placements would eventually turn into adoptive homes for all of the children. Jayne says the two girls are thriving in their new homes. They are healthy, happy and the oldest just celebrated her 6th birthday. It was Disney Princess themed and the first birthday party she’s ever had. Jayne was invited, of course!
The girls’ brother attended the birthday party as well. He is doing great and is a very rambunctious boy who loves his mom. “I watched how this foster mom fell in love with him. She is a special education teacher and a single mom. She does everything she can to keep him happy.”
Jayne continues to be actively involved with the children and families she works with as a CASA Volunteer. She says she knows she’s made a positive impact in the lives of these children. It’s evident by how well they are doing now. She also expressed that every time she sees the families they continuously thank her for the work she did in bringing those children into their lives.
In her free time, Jayne enjoys spending time with her family. She has four daughters and six grandchildren. She likes to walk, workout at the YMCA, garden, cook and be with her husband. She’s active in the political campaigns of progressive candidates and has a passion for racial justice.
“I love being a CASA Volunteer because the work is so personal and hands on. I have loved getting to know the kids and the foster parents. I feel that I have really made a difference in creating positive outcomes for their futures. I often share my experience with others because everyone should know about the opioid addiction crisis in our community and think about how they can be a part of the solution to a problem that affects us all, especially our children.”
Jayne, as a CASA Volunteer, has made a difference and a change in the course of life for the children she has served and she hasn’t stopped there. She’s still an active volunteer and taking on new cases, new children and new opportunities to change lives.