CASA Advocate Thomas Monahan: Building Bonds Through Patience and Consistency

“This is one of those nice little fairytales where it starts out ‘Once upon a time …’ and goes through to ‘The End’ where they live happily ever after. It was my very first case with CASA — my introduction to the CASA world.” 

This is how Thomas Monahan sets the scene when talking about the case he completed in 2021, during which he advocated for three siblings who had been removed from their home due to parental abuse and substance misuse. 

The children were placed in two foster homes, both about a 40-mile drive for Thomas. Even with the distance, he stuck to his scheduled monthly visits with each of the children, and communicated frequently with their DCYF case worker.  

“It was fun to go see the kids,” Thomas recounts. He soon learned that the oldest child loved puzzles. “She staggered my imagination with how quickly she could put a puzzle together. She has a strong intellect. It was an awful shame to see how she had been deteriorating in her home situation with an abusive father and an abused mother. There were no positive opportunities for any of those kids to grow and reach their real potential.”  

In the span between the case opening and Thomas’s appointment, the father became incarcerated. Once Mom was no longer living in fear of abuse and violence, she could focus on her own recovery. By the final hearings, she had completed parenting courses, worked with a parent aide, and participated in a drug treatment program. “She worked hard,” Thomas says. “She definitely wanted her children back and she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way, even with all the hoops she had to jump through and all the mountains she had to climb.” All three children were able to reunite with their mother. “She did an outstanding job, and it was an admirable ending to the case.” 

Thomas’s understanding and love of children are what really shone through on this case (he himself is a father of four, and in addition to his work as a CASA, he serves as grandpa-nanny to two of his grandchildren). Likely due to the abuse they had experienced, the children were initially very wary of new people. However, through his patience and consistency, Thomas allowed the children to become comfortable around him. “When I met with the children, I made sure I never caused them distress or harm. I would always play a game with them, or color, or work on a jigsaw puzzle together.” 

By the close of the case, the warming effect that Thomas had cultivated was unmistakable. Since he had built a positive relationship with the mother, they planned a final visit so he could say goodbye to the children. “I found myself with a little boy clinging to each leg, and the little girl was hugging me around the waist — and I had been a total stranger to them just a year before. That’s enough to bring a tear to my eye; it’s a moment that will always stay in my mind. Just to have those little children showing that trust, and concern, and care. I’d like to think a bond had been created. I left on a melancholy but happy note.” 

Although there is a need for advocates statewide, Thomas, a lifelong resident of northern New Hampshire, hopes to raise awareness of the need for CASA volunteers in the North Country. “There are children up here who suffer just as much from abuse as the ones in Manchester, Nashua, Keene, and Rochester,” he explains. “I hope that people in my community will see my story and say ‘If Tom can do it, I can too.’ If I can be a posterchild, then that would be a great joy to me. I’m not looking for anything for myself, but these children deserve an advocate.”  

We can’t thank Thomas enough for his care, concern, and dedication to children in need of advocacy.

If you would like to become a CASA volunteer advocate and help children, consider attending an upcoming virtual information session to learn more, or submit an application today