Look at them shine!

by | May 6, 2024 | News

For my first two years as the executive director at CASA of Kent County, my office did not have a window. I could go entire days, regardless of the season, with no thought for the weather outside. When I would pack up to go home, I’d take the elevator to the ground floor of the courthouse, walk outside, and exclaim something like:

  • It’s pouring rain!
  • I had no idea it snowed this much!
  • How did I miss this beautiful day!

Now I have a window that faces east, and sometimes when I enter in the morning, I am welcomed by sunshine streaming into my office. I think to myself, “Ah, the sun!” 

Here comes the sun

At CASA’s annual luncheon this year, our theme was “Here Comes the Sun.” I shared with the audience about a cloudier time in my family’s history when my teenage son’s “sparkle” started to fade. That was a difficult season for me as a parent, but it was temporary. Eventually, my son got his sparkle back.

Some children lose their sparkle for more than a season. This can happen when they are consistently bullied, struggling at school, losing friends, or failing at something important to them. If these children have supportive adults in their corner, they can often weather these challenging times and build resilience until they start to shine once again.

Other children, however, lose their sparkle because of something happening inside their family circle. In those cases, everyone in their family experiences gloom. This can happen when there is generational trauma, domestic violence, or substance abuse, all of which can lead to child abuse and neglect. These families often need the support of their community to guide them back to brighter days.

CASA shines a light

In cases of abuse and neglect, when a child’s world shatters, CASA of Kent County steps in. When a judge calls upon us, a court appointed special advocate, or CASA volunteer, can be assigned to a case. The CASA’s role is to lend their sunshine to the child and family during an especially challenging and traumatic time. The CASA does this by building a relationship with the child, networking with other professionals involved in the court case, recommending services, and advocating for the child’s best interest in front of the judge.

A CASA volunteer makes the extraordinary commitment to stay with the child until they return to their parents, whenever safely possible. When that doesn’t happen, the CASA stays until the child finds another loving, permanent home through adoption or guardianship. Only when the child is settled, well cared for, and flourishing, does the CASA step aside. In other words, the CASA volunteer stays with a child until the child’s sparkle comes back.

Look at them shine!

So, when the journey begins, the judge may whisper, “Here comes the sun” about the CASA. But as it concludes, our hope is that everyone sees the child and declares, “There is the sun! Look at them shine!”

 

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