The calls come at all hours. Hard calls, wrenching calls. Like the one that had Susan Brillhart driving from her Hoboken, New Jersey, home to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia so she could advocate for a tiny baby in foster care.
Born 13 weeks premature, the baby tested positive for drugs, was taken from her mother, and released from a New Jersey hospital at 34 weeks to relatives who were named foster parents.
“But they took her out to soccer games and all over and she was still so vulnerable and she got really sick,” says Brillhart. The baby went into cardiac arrest four times by the time she arrived by helicopter at Children’s Hospital. When Brillhart got there, the radiologist told her the baby’s brain scans “were devastating” and she was on full life support.
A court-appointed special advocate at CASA, a Hudson County, New Jersey, nonprofit organization, Brillhart is a voice for “the most vulnerable among us,” medically fragile babies and toddlers placed in foster care because of neglect or abuse by their parent or guardian.
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