Child Protective Services received multiple reports that Ela was not being fed regularly and that she consistently showed up to school in filthy clothes and poor hygiene. When her mother was arrested for outstanding warrants, 15-year-old Ela was placed into the foster care system in Billings. The social worker on her case placed her in the care of her older sister who could provide a safe place for Ela. Not long after Ela entered foster care, she ran away from her sister’s home, and despite best efforts, Child Protective Services was unable to locate her.
Fast forward to the next year when reports were made concerning domestic violence between a boyfriend living with his girlfriend and baby in a hotel. When Child Protective Services came to investigate the reports, they found baby Amara living in the hotel with her mom and dad. As social workers investigated the situation further, they were shocked to find that Amara’s mom was actually 16-year-old Ela who had been on runaway status from foster care. It quickly became clear that Ela’s boyfriend, Amara’s father, was physically abusive and putting both Ela and Amara in serious danger. Ela and baby Amara were placed back into foster care and went to live in a group home for young mothers with babies. Foreseeing the challenges that such a young mother in foster care would face, the judge in charge of Amara and Ela’s case assigned a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to help ensure that both girls were getting the services and resources they needed, and to advocate for a safe and permanent home for both Ela and Amara. The CASA assigned to the case was a seasoned Advocate who knew that Ela would most likely age out of foster care without being adopted. He immediately started visiting Ela and baby Amara in the home for young mothers and worked to make sure that Amara was receiving all her infant pediatric visits and that she was safe and healthy.
As time went on, it became clear that Ela was not able to care for Amara safely on her own without constant supervision from the group home. After much deliberation, the social worker made the difficult decision to move Amara into a different foster home to keep her safe. The CASA worked to make Amara’s transition into a new home as smooth as possible and advocated for regular visits between Ela and Amara so they could continue to build their relationship and bond. As Ela moved closer to aging out of foster care, she became less engaged with both her CASA and social worker and despite their best efforts to try and get her through high school and into secondary education, Ela ran away again and soon after, aged out of foster care.
Since then, Ela’s CASA and social worker were able to determine that Ela was living with some of her family out of town. It is their hope that someday, if Ela finds healing in her own life, she will be able to be part of her daughter’s life again. The CASA continues to visit Amara regularly at her foster home and is pleased to report that Amara is doing well and growing fast. He remains committed to being a safe and stable adult for Amara and a resource for Ela. The CASA hopes that Amara and Ela can one day break the cycles of abuse and neglect that have overshadowed their childhoods and live healthy and happy lives.