Editor’s note: This is part of a monthly series highlighting children in the Apache County foster care system needing volunteer advocates.
APACHE COUNTY — Marcus is only a week old and already in foster care. His mother used methamphetamines while pregnant with Marcus and he was born substance exposed. The hospital is required to notify the Department of Child Safety (formerly CPS) when it has a baby born exposed by illegal substances.
The baby was released from the hospital into foster care. Baby Marcus has some problems. He is underweight despite born at full term. Babies exposed to meth are three times more likely to be underweight.
Marcus is irritable, cries most of the time and has feeding and sleeping problems. He has a lack of muscle tone and has tremors of his hands and feet. His mother had no prenatal care during her pregnancy. Researchers have found that children born to mothers who used methamphetamines during pregnancy frequently have problems that follow them throughout childhood. They often exhibit behavioral and emotional problems by the time they enter kindergarten. Developmental delays and learning disabilities are common.
Marcus’ mother is receiving support from the Department of Child Safety while Marcus is in foster care. She is given the opportunity and assistance to quit using illegal substances and also receives parenting classes. She is encouraged to get appropriate housing and to seek employment to support Marcus.
Babies like Marcus can benefit from having a CASA assigned to them. The CASA — a court appointed special advocate — advocates for children removed from their parents. The CASA works with all members of the team assigned to the case and provides information to the court, recommending what would be in the best interest of the child.
Unfortunately, over 70 children in Apache County have been removed from their homes and need the loving attention and help of a CASA volunteer. If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer to provide support for these children, contact CASA Program Coordinator Stephanie Fink at 928 337-3552 or go to www.CASAof apachecounty.org.