United Way Series: Raymond

Raymond with his first role model of healthy adult behavior, his Court Appointed Special Advocate Vicki. Courtesy/UWNNM


Despite his outgoing and curious nature, Raymond was frustrated and prone to acting out. He’s a super bright child with street smarts.

Vicki is a bright, engaging volunteer who retired from work in the public sector. She has a bold, “take charge” enthusiasm that makes it fun to connect with her. Vicki met Raymond when he was just 6 years old. Raymond’s home situation was so bad that he was taken and placed into foster care. Raymond dealt with more challenges than most kids his age. At a time in life when you should be worry-free and almost no stressful situations, Raymond was full of worry and stress. He was pretty ticked off about a lot of things. One thing made things particularly difficult for Raymond and that was that most people could not understand him when he spoke due to poor articulation

Vicki is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA,) and was appointed to work with Raymond. Vicki learned from the school system that Raymond didn’t qualify for special education (his speech wasn’t deemed bad enough.) Vicki argued that if this boy could not be understood then he would be behind at school and unable to catch up. He’d be a kid who fell through the cracks and would be in and out of “the system” for a long time and beyond -if research and data were to be believed- and she did not want this to happen to Raymond.

Vicki consulted with staff at the office, talked with other CASAs with knowledge in special education and reached out to professional contacts in her community to advocate for services. She spoke out in court about the need and the rational for services for Raymond. She was successful in getting him needed speech therapy and he is making great progress! Getting speech therapy for Raymond is only one small part of a bigger story.

Showing up for a kid and understanding their circumstance so well that you can help at both a personal level by advocating for the child gives them stability and confidence for the first time in their lives. Raymond has since come to believe in her and trust her so much that when he recently had difficulties managing some issues in his foster home, he was overheard to say to his foster mother, “don’t worry, I’ve got my people” (referring to his CASA and her support team). Raymond now has his first role model of healthy adult behavior.


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