It was a wake up call for Darren Jackson. He was called away from his job as a mechanic to receive an urgent phone call in the office.
"This is Mrs. Stanley from your children's school. Are you aware that your children are at home unsupervised?"
"Their mother should be there with them," he answered, doubt beginning to settle in. His wife Deborah had been having difficulty staying off of drugs and had been making some bad choices. Recalling his morning, he realized he'd not seen Deborah before leaving for work. She often got in late and he left for work before the sun came up.
"We called your home Mr. Jackson, and your seven year-old Jared answered the phone. He was trying to make breakfast for his brother. We could hear your baby crying in the background."
"I'll be right there, " he answered.
"Don't go home Mr. Jackson. You need to call Child Welfare Services. They have your children."
This was how Darren Jackson's life changed forever.
"Darren wasn't a bad father," said the CASA case supervisor. "He worked hard but put his trust in a woman who didn't honor her responsibilities as a mother."
The four boys, Matthew, Jared, Nathaniel and James were 8, 7, 5 and 2 years old when the CWS workers showed up at their home and put them into a temporary foster placement. Deborah, once again addicted to methamphetamine, did not oppose Darren's petition for divorce.
But Darren had no idea how to be a single father to four boys while he had to work everyday just to keep the rent and bills paid. As the court proceedings against the parents began, Darren met a man named Gary Philip. Gary told him the judge had appointed him to help the boys through the court system and adjust to life in Foster care. He said he was a CASA volunteer, but Darren didn't know what that meant.
Over the next three years Darren found out. Gary didn't judge Darren, but helped him relearn how to live his life. "Gary provided Darren with an excellent life model," said CASA case supervisor. "He sat down with Darren and helped him find the services he needed to begin to learn how to live an entirely different life. He set Darren up on a schedule, helped enroll him in parenting classes, followed-up on him to be certain he attended all his meetings and provided respite care for the boys while their father tried his best to reclaim his life and the boys he loved."
It took nearly three years, but after a court appearance on a cold winter morning, the judge returned all four boys to the care of their father. He had completely reshaped his life. He got the boys, now 11, 10, 8 and 5, dressed and off to school in the morning before work. He arranged care for them after school and got home in time to make sure they were fed, bathed and put to bed.
"Without the help of Gary, it's hard to say how Darren would have done," said the CASA case supervisor. "What we do know is that with his help, Darren, Matthew, Jared, Nathaniel and James all live together in a home filled with love... What Gary did for Darren was simply show him the way and help him to care for the boys while Darren did the real work of reshaping his life. I think a lot of people could benefit from that."
- Jasmine doesn't remember the mother who Nancy used to be.
- My name is Sarah.
- The first time Holly met Tina was in a foster home in Eureka.
- Kylie was born three months premature.