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Mia was frightened at home. She loved her mom but a chill went down Mia’s spine when her mom was high on drugs. And it happened a lot.

There were strangers always coming and going at their apartment. They seemed scary. Mia was tiny for her age, with eyes that seemed to see everything, and she always took care of her little brothers. When they would cry, she tried to hide them from her mother. She didn’t want her mother to be upset. But she would hear them anyway and would pull their hair, push them into walls or use an old leather belt to beat them.

Mia was 8 but she’d never had a toothbrush or her own bed. Her curly hair was often matted. There was never enough food in the house. A lot of the time, Mia’s back was bruised or her face still stung from a slap when she went to school. So she had a hard time concentrating and she fell further and further behind. She kept coming to school though – mostly because she got breakfast and lunch.

One day, the third grader was caught putting food from the cafeteria in her backpack to take home for her and her brothers. Her teacher asked why she was taking the food and Mia told her how hungry they were at home. How her mother wasn’t “right”. And how scared she was.

The children were removed from their home that night. A few days later, they moved from the emergency foster home to live with their Aunt Mary. The children couldn’t believe how clean the house was or how they got to have things like Salisbury steak and roasted chicken for dinner.

While they adjusted to their new home, Juvenile Court considered what should happen to the children. A ProKids CASA volunteer was assigned to the case to advocate for the children. Amy, who had been a volunteer for a couple of years, went to visit Mia and her brothers.

Amy asked Mia how she was doing in school, what living with her mom had been like and how she liked Aunt Mary. Amy told Mia she would work to make sure the three children had a safer, happier life together. Amy talked to the children’s teachers and made sure they got the help they needed in school. And Amy would come to some of the visits Mia and her brothers had with their mom.

Amy spoke up for the children in Juvenile Court when Mia’s mom didn’t end her drug habit. She saw how the children thrived at their Aunt Mary’s and made sure Job and Family Services helped Aunt Mary get what she needed to raise the children. And she made sure in court that the children and Aunt Mary were able to be a “forever family” – safe and happy.

Mia did better in school and recently made the honor roll. She doesn’t have to parent her brothers any more. They can enjoy their childhood – a childhood they and Mia nearly lost.

Because Amy advocated for the best interests of the children, Mia and her brothers are able to grow up in a stable home. They are safe. And able to see a future which is bright and promising.

We share stories of our children so that our community can understand why ProKids depends on a mobilized community. We change the names of the children, and sometimes of the adults involved, and use stock photos out of respect for their dignity and privacy. The stories themselves, however, are true.

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