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Justice for Melody

Melody had been in the system before. She entered foster care when her mom was unable to care for her, but the case had closed when she began living with an aunt that loved her like a daughter. It should have been happily ever after for Melody, but then depression kicked in. After more than a year of living with her aunt, her case was reopened when her aunt could no longer handle Melody's acting out behaviors. At 12 years-old, she threw violent tantrums, was sent home from school, and would hurt herself. For the first few months in the system, nothing seemed to help Melody; she was psychiatrically hospitalized over 16 times, moved between multiple placements, and self-harm continued. When Melody's attorney met her, she didn't want to look at or talk to her. Adults in her life had let her down before. Then they began meeting each time she was hospitalized. Melody's attorney talked with the child welfare worker every week. Her attorney attended meetings at each placement, and noticed when Melody would light up or shut down. In court hearings, Melody's attorney fought for justice by changing the narrative to focus on Melody's strengths and not her failings. With Melody at her side, she told the judge about Melody's progress and explained her needs. Melody's attorney placed the emphasis on her mental health and on her successes. Finally, Melody's team located a placement that works with Melody's strengths. Melody has not been hospitalized in months. And when Melody's attorney visits her, Melody lights up. That's what justice for Melody looks like.

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