Jasmine doesn't remember the mother Nancy used to be. She had been too little to recognize the drug use and the unclean home in which she lived - too young to see her mother beaten by a father she wouldn't recognize if he returned from prison. But at 18 months she was old enough to reach the razor blades, butane lighters, broken mirrors and syringes left on the table while Nancy lay unconscious, passed-out in her bedroom closet.

This was how the Eureka Police Department found the home. A neighbor had called anonymously to report an unattended and screaming child. After finding Jasmine alone, the police arrested Nancy and took Jasmine to a temporary shelter. Nancy was arrested and incarcerated for willful harm to a child.

"At first," said Amanda, the CASA volunteer assigned to help Jasmine, "Nancy acted real put-out – like what she'd done wasn't that bad and people were just picking on her. Her attitude was poor and she really seemed very resistant to anyone helping her."

For three months Nancy remained in jail and Jasmine was moved into the home of her Great Grandmother. "Things started off really well with Jasmine's placement with (Great) Grandma," said Amanda. "But it didn't take long for us to realize that the abuse issues didn't begin and end with Nancy. The family had a legacy of drugs, child abuse, incest, rape, molestation and child pornography. The mother (Nancy) had been sexually abused as a child and after a few allegations of drug abuse at the (Great) Grandma's home, the child was placed into the care of a local Foster family"

Nancy's release from jail was contingent upon her beginning and completing a drug treatment program. She began her classes at a local program, but soon began missing classes and was re-arrested under the terms of her probation.

"The second arrest was the real eye-opener for Nancy," said Amanda. "Here was this twenty year-old girl who began to realize that if she didn't get her life together she was going to lose her child forever... The foster parents wanted to adopt Jasmine, and it was looking for a while like that was going to happen."

Faced with losing her daughter, Nancy began researching treatment programs vigorously from jail. She regularly attended church services and spoke to the counselors. More than anything, she wanted to get released from jail and be reunited with her child.

"At first it was hard to trust Nancy again," said Amanda. "I wanted to believe she was sincere, but my concern was for the child first and the foster family Jasmine had been placed with was a secure and loving home. I couldn't pretend to believe in her."

But Amanda didn't give up hope. She spoke with the foster parents regularly and visited with Nancy through the glass of the County Jail visiting booth. After two more months in jail, Nancy was again released – with the same stipulation of completing a residential treatment drug program.

"Once released, Nancy was like a changed person," said Amanda. "She entered into a sober household – where each person is responsible for their own treatment and sobriety. I was unsure about all the freedom Nancy had, but after seeing her in the program for a while I realized that in order to fulfill my responsibility to the child I had to overcome my own doubts and support her (Nancy). I honestly believed that if Jasmine could talk – she would say she wanted to be with her mother."

With the support of Amanda and the director of the program, Nancy flourished in the sober household. She completed unit after unit of the recovery program, attended church regularly, and participated diligently in anger management classes. Amanda was able to help Nancy adjust to a new life – a life of responsibilities and routines – a life unlike any she had ever known.

"Nancy started talking to me about cooking one day," recalled Amanda. "I was shocked to learn she'd never cooked anything or done dishes in her life. That was when I realized how difficult a transformation she was trying to make. Not only was she trying to break the cycle of abuse she had been raised in, but she was also trying to learn ten years of living skills in a couple of months."

One day, Amanda introduced Nancy to the foster parents who were taking care of Jasmine. "That was such an amazing time," said Amanda. " These foster parents who loved this little girl and wanted to adopt her, put their own feelings aside and began to help Nancy – teaching her how to be a good parent. They saw the love between the mother and daughter and decided to help them be together – even though part of them must have been dying inside."

Over the next few months, Nancy stayed with her program and the court began to consider reuniting the mother with her daughter. It was possible for Jasmine to move into the treatment facility with her mom. Nancy had chosen this program because of the possibility.

"Her (Nancy's) whole focus changed," said the CASA case supervisor. "She changed from being a kid in way over her head into a responsible mother whose entire life centered on the health and happiness of her child. It was an amazing transformation that made your heart feel good to see."

After nearly a year, Jasmine was reunited with her mother. "To see Nancy's transformation from that day in the closet into the mature woman who had all the skills needed to raise a healthy child – it was simply amazing. I had almost given up hope – but in this case I got to see the system really work. Everyone – the social worker, foster parents, CASA, and the mom – worked together and today Jasmine is doing very well. I feel privileged to have witnessed it."