MANDAN, N.D. (KXNET) — “They did love me so much,” Cassandra Carlascio, former foster child, shared. “And without that, I mean, I’m so thankful for being in a foster home. Like it wasn’t easy, it really wasn’t, but it changed my course of life. It really did.”

By age ten, Cassandra Carlascio was troubled and in foster care for the first time.

“It really was a rough child home,” Cassandra acknowledged.

By age 12, she was back in foster care, this time in Carrington with Mike and Danette Schmid, a PATH foster family, trained to work with children like Cassandra who struggled with emotional and behavioral problems.

While she has no ill feelings towards her parents, the home was not a safe place for her to be.

“I still love them,” Cassandra said, “but a lot of it was them and just me kind of imitating what I’ve seen.”

This behavior led to a stay at Home on the Range as well as the Youth Correctional Center. She had stolen the Schmid’s car, and as expected, they were upset, but their love remained constant.

“They welcomed me back into their home, which was something that was so profound for me,” Cassandra said. “It really showed me how much they cared about me, because they really did. And it makes me emotional thinking about it.”

The Schmid’s were the constant Cassandra needed in her life, providing her with a safe, clean home, clean clothes, and security.

“I was so blessed to have them show me compassion and empathy and love, because I wasn’t an easy kid either,” Cassandra stated. “I mean, I was kind of wild. So they just, they, stuck it out with me and even my I was like a stranger going into their home.”

If she hadn’t been so loyal to her mom, Cassandra says the Schmid’s would have adopted her.
While she couldn’t take that title away from her mom, she did address the feelings she harbored inside.

“It was really hard for me to get over that loyalty and just be honest about what was happening, what I’m feeling and everything,” Cassandra said.

Another difficult decision came in the summer before her junior year of high school. She yearned to be closer to her family, and attending school in a small town was not easy.

“It was hard living there like because I was labeled a foster kid,” Cassandra recollected. “So like it was hard living in a small town, it’s always been that.”

Challenges facing the foster care system in North Dakota.

Her social worker found another PATH family, Bob and Vicki Thu, in the small township of Fried just outside of Jamestown.

Cassandra lived there with 11 kids, with one other being a foster child.

“We shared a room and all of the other kids that lived there they had adopted,” Cassandra shared. “They were amazing, amazing people. Like so giving, so loving and kind.”

She says they taught her a lot about faith, and she was even baptized in New Orleans while on a mission trip with the Thu’s following Hurricane Katrina.

Cassandra credits her foster families, social worker, and psychologist for much of her success today.

“I think about that a lot,” Cassandra shared. “Where I would be even like having children if I didn’t have that, like where I would be and how I would be raising them. Because they showed me how to do that how to be apparent how to love and how to not be perfect, but you know, show up and be there. “

Cassandra has an older brother who was in county foster care growing up. She is thankful for her much more positive experience with PATH foster families who helped her through mental health challenges and more.

And now, Cassandra is a wife and mother of two young boys.