Family Advocates Story

Posted on

Oct 27, 2015

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Motivated by heart-breaking stories her own mother told about growing up in foster homes and determined to protect children in that situation now, Elaine Ellis became a Guardian ad Litem volunteer six years ago. Mom wasnt abused like many were back then, but she wasnt loved either, Elaine recalls. Now, shes working to make sure children in state custody, like 7-year-old Sarah and her 8-year-old brother, Elijah, are treated the way she wishes her Mom had been. Twice last year Sarah and Elijah needed someone in their corner, and both times Elaine was ready to stick up for them. The childrens father disappeared years ago and their mother, Linda, fell and hit her head while working in Lewiston. Her injuries required a long hospital stay and months of rehabilitation. Doctors said it would be at least a year before she could care for herself and the children. With no one to care for them, Sarah and Elijah were placed in a foster home to wait for Linda to recover. Sarah and Elijah were devastated when I met them, Elaine said. Ive never seen two sadder kids. Elaine visited them regularly - working hard to earn their trust in the months that followed. She took them books and blankets, checked on their grades, and listened to their stories about their Mother and all the things they would do when she was well. It was two months later that Sarah shared a secret with Elaine - a teenager in the foster home was abusing her brother, she confided. Elaine reported the abuse and Sarah and Elijah were immediately moved to another foster home. In the meantime, Lindas therapy progressed. Her condition improved enough to have visitors, and Sarah and Elijah were ecstatic to learn they would be able to see their mother over the Holiday break. Every time Elaine visited they were making plans for the visit. It was only four days before Christmas when Elaine got a frantic phone call from Carrie, the foster mom. Carrie told Elaine the arrangements for the childrens Christmas visit with their mother hadnt been finalized, and no one at the Department of Health and Welfare had given approval for the trip. The person with the authority had left town, Elaine said. I just couldnt stand for them to have that kind of disappointment. It took dozens of calls and three trips to state offices but Elaine finally found someone with the authority and willingness to approve the trip, but there were still no travel arrangements. Finally, on Christmas Eve, Elaine found friends from church, foster parents, who were traveling to Lewiston and had room for two more passengers ensuring Sarah and Elijah would spend Christmas with their Mom as promised. There wasnt anyone to watch out for my Mom, Elaine said, Im happy to be part of a program that watches out for kids like her now. Names changed to protect the identities of those we serve. This year over 1,100 children in the Treasure Valley were placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect. Family Advocates has trained over 350 volunteers to provide a voice to children in foster care through the Guardian ad Litem program. Family Advocates is in need of 120 additional volunteers to help meet demand and ensure all children have someone to stand up for them in times of need. If you are interested in becoming a Guardian ad Litem and making a difference in a childs life contact Brad Talbutt at 345-3344 or email No experience is required. Family Advocates provides all volunteers with training and supervision by experienced staff.

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