Real life progress is not always a straight line. Our youth continue to show us their fire and resiliency, rising above their circumstances to emerge stronger, focused squarely on the future.



Cassie, 16, was adopted at five-years-old by a male family friend due to her mother’s mental health and substance abuse struggles. By 11 years-old, the family friend had passed away and Cassie learned that her adopted father was not her biological father. Hoping to keep some stability in Cassie’s life, the man’s older daughter assumed care of her for a brief period of time.

Unfortunately, shortly after the transition, her caretaker contacted DCFS stating that she was no longer able to care for Cassie. Cassie arrived at our program for Foster Youth feeling alone, scared, and an overwhelming sense of grief and abandonment.

Her first few weeks were difficult. She had trouble forming positive relationships and communicating her needs. Cassie also struggled with schedules and any type of structure. Over time, our YES staff learned that Cassie had a strong love for animals and used this connection to help her with constructive communication and a consistent schedule. Cassie recently started interning with a local pet shelter and could not be more excited. She has kept to a consistent schedule and gets up and ready to go daily without any staff reminders.

Additionally, Cassie has recently found additional family members who are currently in the process to get approved as her foster family. Cassie continues to make progress on her goals as she presses toward returning to a safe and loving environment in the community with the family she deserves.

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