450 N Syndicate St, Suite 340, St. Paul, MN 55104 info@clcmn.org 651-644-4438

January 2011 Volunteers of the Month: Nancy Coyle Strahan & Kathleen Berdan

Nancy Coyle Strahan and Kathleen Berdan attended CLC’s training session in June 2000. As new attorneys they were not familiar with the child protection system and laws and both stated that they were a little intimidated about representing foster care children.  Nancy and Kathleen were the first volunteers to co-represent CLC clients and have co-represented several very difficult cases.  They have spent an estimated 3,000 hours on their clients since 2000.

Within three months of volunteering they brought a motion on behalf of a sibling group of four to be placed in long-term foster care.  All four of these children were high risk and had been physically and/or sexually abused.  The county and guardian-ad-litem opposed the motion because they wanted the children to be adopted.  These children had been in the same foster home for three years and did not want to live anywhere else or be separated.  The foster mother was willing to continue care for the children but stated that she was not financially able to adopt them.  Despite their hard work the motion was denied.  However, 18 months later the court found compelling reasons and ordered the children into long-term foster care.  By the end of this school year, three of the four siblings will have graduated from high school and by next fall two will be enrolled in college.

Kathleen and Nancy also represented a client with serious mental health issues, who was placed in treatment facilities a great distance from the Metro Area.  Occasionally, both attorneys were able to take a day off of work to attend the many team meetings, but at least one of the attorneys attended each team meeting.  This client was later transferred to a therapeutic foster home in the Twin Cities.  Kathleen and Nancy still attend numerous meetings: master treatment planning meetings; a child safety planning meeting; school meetings with their client; child protection meetings, meetings to facilitate treatment; meetings to arrange transportation; two supervised birthday parties and even a foster home tea.  CLC is privileged and honored to have Kathleen and Nancy as volunteers but the real winners are the clients who receive high quality representation from these two outstanding women.

“Why did we hang in there?  Because of the kids.  If nothing else, we were a constant in their lives.”

Thank you Kathleen and Nancy!