As a volunteer and then employee at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Ventura County, Michelle Morgan was familiar with the foster system. CASA of Ventura County (not to be confused with Casa Pacifica) recruits, screens, and trains volunteers who advocate for court-dependent children. As the CASA Program Manager, Michelle began to manage and follow the cases of several foster youth. Although she only knew the youth and families on paper, many of the stories were the same: biological parents with mental health or addiction problems, neglected youth, multiple placements, or failed family reunification attempts.
After many years and many cases, there was one story that for reasons she can’t explain connected with her. Four siblings. Brothers. The oldest had been in twelve placements by the time he was ten. Knowing their history, and seeing the kids move from place to place to place, Michelle could only imagine how helpless they must have felt, and decided to step in.
“In December of 2019, I went home to my husband and I said, hey, I think we need to shift gears and consider fostering.” The couple had many open, honest conversations with their biological children Paityn (12), Dylan (10) and decided to move forward.
Michelle contacted the social worker on the case. Because the boys were in Casa Pacifica’s Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC) Program, Michelle and her husband started the process of becoming a resource family through Casa Pacifica’s Foster Family Agency (FFA). With classes easily accessible online and the ongoing support of the FFA team, Michelle and her husband were able to complete their certification in about four months.
Jameson (name changed for privacy) has been living with the Morgan family for almost 11 months. Michelle says that in a weird way the best part of fostering and the most difficult part of fostering are the same, overcoming challenges.
“Being able to work through things together has been transformative for all of us,” she says. “Becoming an ‘us’ is a constant negotiation of how to work together. I have to be more thoughtful, not reactive. I have to be more considerate of what I’m saying to Jameson because of the implications of the relationship we’re building.”