Volunteer Perspectives: Be Their Voice

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Stories

Every child has a story. CASA volunteers help them speak up.

When children are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, they enter an over-burdened child welfare system. The adults who are assigned to their case are often working to support many children and families at a time. Family court judges must make life-changing decisions for children, often without ever meeting them in person.  

The CASA program was created as a solution to these problems, and to be a voice for the children’s best interests. Every day, our volunteers are speaking up for their CASA children’s needs and wishes. Keep reading for recent examples of how CASA volunteers put their advocacy into practice.

Anna’s CASA

“My CASA child Anna is 10 years old, and I’ve known her since she was 8. She has always struggled to connect with her therapist, despite desperately needing the support. Recently, Anna moved from one foster home to another, and during that transition, her therapy sessions ended. Because of the trauma she experienced in her home of origin, I strongly felt that Anna needed to continue counseling. I communicated regularly with her caseworker to advocate for finding the right therapist and getting her the support she needs. I’m thrilled that Anna recently started seeing a new therapist skilled in this type of trauma, and Anna is excited about meeting with her! I am hopeful that this will help in her healing.” – CASA of Kent County Volunteer

Mason’s CASA

“My CASA child Mason is 15 years old. After being placed in a residential facility by his previous adoptive parents, it became clear that the staff there were no longer able to meet his needs effectively. I collaborated closely with the agency to find a new facility that would better serve him and be closer to his support system. He moved to the new facility a few months ago, and it has been extraordinary seeing him work with a therapeutic team that is trauma-informed and supportive of his overall progress. The team and I are hopeful that Mason can complete his program soon and begin attending public school and playing football, which is his greatest wish.” – CASA of Kent County Volunteer

Kiani’s CASA

“Advocating for my CASA child Kiani has been challenging, heartbreaking, and inspiring. She has endured such tragic events that she believes she deserves the exploitation and instability she has experienced, leading her to seek love and care from strangers. While everyone involved in her case—caseworkers, therapists, care coordinators, and foster parents—acknowledged she needed therapy, it was often forgotten that she also needed the opportunity to simply be a child. Knowing that she loves candy, art, and slime, I found opportunities to engage her in activities and outings that provided her the experience of having safe, appropriate fun with a trustworthy adult. In a recent meeting with her team, I strongly advocated for enrolling her in swim lessons, something she had expressed interest in during one of our visits. I hope it will give her another positive childhood experience to counter the adverse ones.” – CASA of Kent County Volunteer

James’ CASA

“James is one of many foster teens whose records precede them—a long list of troubling incidents many struggle to look past. After his second expulsion, James was begging to go back to residential treatment because it was the only place where he didn’t get into trouble and felt like a good kid. But I took him to breakfast and asked him to tell me what support he had at the residential facility that made him feel in control and safe. Slowly, he put together a long list, and most items were small things we could easily replicate at home—a predictable schedule, encouragement rather than punishment, feeling like people believe in him. After two hours at Denny’s, he said to me, ‘No one has ever asked me what I need. They always just tell me to stop being bad.’

I haven’t been able to get James everything on his list, but every time I see him, I make sure to tell him I believe in him and that losing control comes from lacking support and tools, not from being a bad person. The biggest win I’ve had for him in the two years of the case was his involvement in a wood-working mentorship program for boys in foster care. James spent two months surrounded by adults who hadn’t seen his file and only saw the incredible person he truly is—they believed in him and encouraged him. I got a picture of James—a 15-year-old with a grin like that of a six-year-old on Christmas Day. I couldn’t be more grateful to have that photo to remind me of the power of adults using their voice so a child can finally be both seen and heard as more than what is recorded on paper.” – CASA of Kent County Volunteer

Max’s CASA

“I’ve had the great privilege of advocating for a sibling group of three for the last two years. I’ve worked hard to develop a relationship with each of them, including the teen boy, Max. Recently, he moved to a foster home in a rural area where he is the only African American person in the community and in his school. While he hasn’t said much about this, I know it’s weighing on him.

On a recent visit, I noticed that Max’s hair was longer than he usually wears it. When I asked him about this, he explained that he wanted to go back to his usual barber in the city. Knowing that Max wants to look his best, I reached out to the foster care agency to ask about taking Max to the barber. They agreed that this was a priority.

The next time I transported Max for a visit with his siblings at a relative’s house, Max’s uncle took him to the barber. When I picked him up to take him back to the foster home, he was grinning from ear to ear. ‘Lookin’ good,’ I said and smiled back.” – CASA of Kent County Volunteer

Each of these CASA volunteers used their own voice to speak up for their CASA child. Whether it’s something as simple as a haircut or as substantial as finding the right therapist, having an adult advocating for their best interests is impactful for children. Thank you, CASA volunteers for your essential advocacy!

You can make a difference in the lives of children, too.

CASA of Kent County is always in need of committed volunteers to advocate for children. Check out our Volunteer Information page to learn more about how to get involved.  

We also need your help to spread the word about CASA’s mission. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to stay updated on all things CASA. Share our posts to help increase awareness and tell your friends about our mission!

Finally, CASA needs funding to continue the important work of advocacy. Your monthly or one-time gift will support our efforts to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers who will speak up for children in Kent County. Donate to our Be Their Voice campaign to help us finish this fiscal year strong!

Thank you!

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