Open to service providers, CPS, and other agencies working to strengthen families.
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One of the highest duties of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is to make a sound recommendation to the Judge that presides over the case. This recommendation derives from information gathered by the CASA, through one on one time spent with assigned children and is also based on the parent’s improvement or lack thereof. It is important that a CASA can be confident in their recommendation before reporting to the ruling Judge. No child should have to go through the foster care system once, let alone twice. So recommendations have to have a core of evidence based information, including services provided.
Mineral County offers forever growing services to those in the child abuse and neglect circuit courts and working towards reunification. These services are often taught in the home of the respondent parent or in the agency office, rarely with the children present. In an ideal world, when service providers are teaching parenting curriculum the children are present and the environment is conducive to that of a safe home. With hopes to make that ideal world the reality, the late director of the Mineral County Family Resource Network, Gerri Mason and her daughter, Dayla Harvey began planning. Prior to those plans becoming the reality, Gerri Mason lost her battle to cancer leaving behind a wish list of possibilities, conversations of what if and a daughter determined to make it all come true for her mother’s legacy and the families of Mineral County.
In spring of 2021 The Gerri Mason Family Center was officially opened to families working towards reunification through the 21st Circuit Court. The Gerri Mason Family Center is a safe and home like environment that allows parents to physically apply skills taught by their service provider throughout the case. Hands on learning and demonstration is scientifically proven to ensure better results as it allows the body to learn as well as the mind. This is also imperative learning as not all can obtain auditory or visual information. When the certainty of the child’s safety and survival is at stake, it is vital that what is offered is a complete learning experience. When utilizing the center the service providers can correct mistakes as they occur and take time thoroughly explain the proper method which will allow parents to master the skill before the child is returned to their care. This includes but is not limited to preparing and eating family meals, entertaining children in a living space, playing games, conflict management, appropriate discipline, safety while crossing the street, safe outdoor play, and much more. The Gerri Mason Family Center allows parents to understand and mimic a safe and healthy family environment. In addition to providing a fuller learning experience for parents throughout their case, the goal of the center is to ensure forever safe and stable homes upon return. Mineral County, like many, has recently had a surge in reopened child abuse and neglect cases. The center wants to ensure that a lack of parenting skills and education is not the cause. The Gerri Mason Family Center was created not only to serve children already removed from the home but to help prevent further trauma as well as prevent reopening a case in the future.