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Three Fathers, One Shared Responsibility

CASA volunteer David Partin and family
David Partin, pictured with wife Gretchen and son Andrew, helped reunite three fathers with their children.

David Partin, a volunteer with the Kershaw County GAL Program in Camden, SC, was counselor and coach to three fathers working hard to create loving homes for their children.

In 2007—only a few months after completing his volunteer training—David took on the case of three young children, each of whom had a different father. The mother of the children, with whom they had been living, was accused of physical and educational neglect. The case made a strong impression on David, who is now a father himself. “Looking back on the case, it made me proud as a man to see other men standing up and wanting to be fathers.”

When David walked into the courtroom for the first time, he saw three men sitting together—the fathers of the children. “You don’t normally see guys sitting in the courtroom, so I was kind of surprised to see them.” He saw the fathers turn to look at him, and David remembers his feeling at that moment: “It was as if they were just waiting for their chance.”

Each father had spent some time with their child before the courts became involved. It soon became clear that the fathers were willing to do whatever it took to provide a stable situation for their children. David became their counselor and their coach as they adjusted to their new parental responsibilities.

Elizabeth May, coordinator of the Kershaw County GAL program, notes, “These men had dealt with women at every step of the process. You could just tell they were thrilled to be dealing with a male advocate. As a matter of fact, that was probably what made them a little more willing to pick up the phone and talk to him.”

The fathers began coordinating regular visits with each other so all three of the children could be together. David stayed in regular communication with them as well as the children, visiting each home and guiding them through situations as they arose. He was pleased with their progress and especially the cooperation among them. As the fathers and the children developed a comfortable routine, the mother continued to struggle with recovery. When it became apparent that the mother was not able to complete a treatment plan, David recommended that the fathers be granted permanent custody of their respective children, and the court agreed.

The fathers have continued to coordinate their shared responsibilities, and the unique arrangement seems to be working well for all involved. The team of fathers even established contact with the mother’s parents, so their children could have a relationship with their grandparents. “They really went above and beyond,” says David. “Their commitment gave me the glimmer of hope I need every once in a while. It helps keep me pushing for all of the children I represent to have loving, committed relationships with their dads.”

David’s dedication to giving his own time to others comes from his own father. “I have a great father,” he says. “My dad always drove home the point that I had more than others, and that meant I should try to give back.” Following his father’s guidance, David started volunteering at 14 and has continued throughout his life. He hopes to inspire his son Andrew to give back in the same way that his father inspired him.

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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