Thursday, Feb 1, 2018
The CASA organization has chosen Jennifer Otterson as February Advocate of the Month. She has been an advocate with CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties since November 2016. She jumped into her role quickly by selecting a case with two girls, ages three and eight. Jennifer is still advocating on this case. The girls are now five and 10 years of age.
This case opened in October of 2016 due to the children’s unsafe living environment and their mother’s mental health. The minor children were removed from their mother’s care and placed with a man who was considered to be the psychological father (a person acting as the children’s parent) of the girls. The psychological father eventually provided notice to the Adams County Department of Human Services that he would no longer be able care for the girls due to their behavioral problems. These behavioral problems continued to be an issue at the next placement and the next. At one point the girls were even moved out of state for a week, to be with relatives, and then sent back to Colorado. These multiple moves had a negative impact on the emotional state of the children. When no one else was there for these girls, Jennifer was. Whenever possible, Jennifer was present for the removals and transitions; some of which occurred late at night. One of Jennifer’s challenges was that the girls lived a two-hour drive away from her, which meant a four-hour round trip for visits. But the rewards outweighed the challenges.
“Just knowing that I’ve been able to be one of the constants in the lives of two children who have had so much inconsistency and trauma over the past few years is comforting to me, and I’m happy to be a positive role model,” said Jennifer. “Having someone who cares and who shows up is more important than anyone can imagine.”
Throughout this chaos, the children made further reports of abuse to the CASA. Consequently, Jennifer has had to adhere to her duty as a mandatory reporter by alerting her supervisor, the professional team – which includes the case worker and Guardian ad Litem -- and the police of this abuse.
Jennifer has stayed on this case since the beginning and despite the ever-changing placements of the children she faithfully continues her visits, even when it requires the significant drive to do so. As a result, Jennifer is extremely aware the needs of these girls and has developed a wonderful rapport with them. The girls rely on Jennifer to be there for them no matter where they are living.
The support and consistency that Jennifer has given to these girls throughout a horrible and traumatic time in their lives has not only made a difference for them but it also greatly benefits the CASA organization by providing a shining example of all the good a CASA can do. We could not be more appreciative of her efforts.