How long have you been a CASA?
I have been a CASA since July 2011. I have been a Peer Coordinator for almost 3 years
Number of cases you’ve worked on:
9 cases personally; I have mentored CASA’s with 10 cases in all.
Number of children you’ve worked with:
14 children on my own cases. The children the CASA’s I mentor have advocated for 17 more.
Why did you decide to become a CASA and why do you continue to give your time to CASA?
As a retired teacher I wanted to continue to make a difference in children’s lives. I guess it makes me feel like a champion for children.
Tell us about a learning experience you’ve had as a CASA.
One of the most sobering things I have learned is that many of the “children” we advocate for are teenagers and what happens to them when they leave the foster care system without being reunited with their family. It is hard to know that they don’t have a family to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving or other holidays with. Many of them have few resources and it has been a most difficult lesson to learn the hardship that struggling teenagers have to deal with.
Share a memorable outcome from one of your cases, or, on a case that hasn’t closed yet, something positive you’ve seen come from your case so far.
A local church was sending things to help out the family placement for the children I advocated for. There are 5 children in all and they have a small home. Their income is limited as their grandmother who is on disability cares for them. The church sent over brand new bedding for every child and when I drove in with it and asked the children to help me bring in brand new sheets, blankets and pillows, the 8-year-old boy took one of the pillows and said , “Can I have one too?” It is hard for us to imagine when a child is excited over the prospect of a new pillow. Giving to children who are so appreciative for everything you do because they often have so little is so heart-warming.
What would you say to encourage someone who has been thinking about becoming an advocate?
Being involved in making a difference in children’s lives is so rewarding. There are so many options facing the judges on how they can impact the lives of children who are affected by neglect and abuse. But how would they know what is best for the children unless someone who cares and understands what that child’s life is like on a day to day basis tells them? When you can explain to the judge what the child you are advocating is facing, seeing and feeling, then you are giving the child a voice that the court will appreciate when they make decisions.