She was one of the first students I looked up this year, only to find she was no longer at my middle school. Terrified her mom had moved her in an effort to ditch the CPS caseworkers trailing her, I called the nurse at her new school and asked her to get in touch with Shoe Girl stat. She tried, but Shoe Girl was hardly in school for the first week and a half; her new nurse joked she was out getting new shoes. Hah!
Imagine my surprise when that nurse called me Friday afternoon saying she talked to a PT from the school district who was going to be meeting with Shoe Girl to assess the new shoes. I wanted to celebrate victory then, but I couldn't do that just yet, not until someone had actually physically seen them. (The possibility of success was tempered by an email I'd opened at the same time as this phone call from the secretary of my boss asking me for my schedule that ended with "You're not in trouble!" Doesn't everyone know that "you're not in trouble" totally means you're actually deep in trouble? I still don't know why.)
I held my breath until Monday morning, when the other nurse called me and asked if I wanted to meet with Shoe Girl. Yes, please! What I found was shocking. Shoe Girl smelled good, looked clean, and appeared to have grown 12 inches. I don't think that growth spurt was just puberty hitting, but she also walks with her legs straight now, allowing her to stand tall now. She has brand new shoes that are supportive, and she was wearing socks - it was amazing. We talked alone for awhile and she told me how different things are at home: people are getting along, her mom is washing her socks (rather than stealing the pairs Shoe Girl wore home from school after the yard duty would buy them for her), her sister is doing her hair, her feet don't hurt.
There's a small part of me that worries once the court loses track of them things will return to the same sick state they were in before, but I hope by then Shoe Girl will be old enough to not be taken advantage of like she was before. She certainly appeared more confident than I'd ever seen her, and she promised to get in touch with the nurse and ask for me if things at home slide downhill again. For now, though, I am accepting the change as victory: a full school year of nearly every Wednesday having someone in my office break down to me (either Shoe Girl or school personnel, begging me to do something about the shoes) later, CPS and the last resort PT referral I made did something good. Case closed.