I wanted to get involved in the community where I grew up. A colleague of mine was a CASA and introduced me to the program. At first I was a little scared to be working with children, but once I went through the training and got started, I was hooked.
It really does not take that much time to be a CASA. Court reports are due every 6 months and you attend the the actual case court dates as well. The court process is about 20 minutes, so it is really manageable. The time you actually spend with your CASA child is up to you. I like to see my child once a week and usually call mid week to check in.
Pretty quickly really. The first time he held my hand when crossing a street made me very aware of how trusting he was, I mean, to be with a total stranger who picks you up from your foster home to take you to do really fun stuff with very few reservations is amazing. His foster mom, who is wonderful, is also very vocal about how much of an impact having a CASA is making on his life and how he has grown as a result.
Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Children in the system are very resilient, they have been through so much already and are really just looking for someone to say they are important and be consistent with them. The smallest things make the biggest difference to them. Just be present, giving, and supportive, and the relationship with your child will follow. It is amazing work, I’m a lifer!
I have always had a passion for working with kids. When I saw an ad in the newspaper, I decided that was something I would like to pursue.
Not easily. I have a full time career, so for me sacrifices are necessary on both sides. It is important to have a degree of flexibility in the workplace, because as an advocate I sometimes need to go to school meetings and hearings during the workday. Alternatively, I maintain communication with a case manager, and when I am unable to leave work the case manager is able to help.
The first time I felt my work paid off was when I was assigned to work on a case with two brothers. One was in foster care and the other was living in a group home. The ultimate plan was for the brothers to be separated, and placed in different homes. I saw that they were very close with each other, and was ultimately able to create an arrangement that allowed them to stay together.
A lot of volunteers are very eager after training to work as advocates. However, after one or two cases sometimes volunteers feel that they are tired of being CASAs and move on. I encourage you to stick with it. There are so many kids who need help. Sometimes it may be necessary to take breaks, as I have had to from time to time. However, I encourage volunteers to stay with the work because there are so many kids can use the help!