When Sue Kobets became a CASA volunteer in 2010, she says she’d had her fill of board positions and wanted to find a volunteer opportunity that would allow her to directly serve children. Although she worked full time and was a busy mom raising a large family, she decided she could take on one CA kid at a time. Then, when Sue retired 3 years ago, she found being a CASA was the best way to stay active and also do something positive for children, so she increased her caseload. Sue has advocated for 17 children in her 7 years as a volunteer.
Sue acknowledges the frustrations that come with being a CASA, and says she’s hard on herself when she doesn’t see the changes she wants for her CA kids. That’s when she humbly reminds herself of the difference she’s been able to make “for a few children along the way” and that she’s just one person in a huge pool of service providers & family. Sue says, “I can’t change the trauma that has gone on before, but I can be the one constant voice for a child.”
One of the most rewarding cases Sue has worked on involves an addicted baby who, at birth, had a prognosis that questioned if she would ever be able to see, walk or talk. Sue says, “I’ve had her as one of my kiddos for close to 3 years and the progress she has experienced in the amazing foster home she is in has been a miracle. She is a healthy, happy toddler now & her future looks bright.” Of Sue’s work on this case, her GAL Tom Heath says, “Sue shepherded this case to its present status, working closely with the pre-adoptive mother to achieve permanency for this little girl.” Sue modestly says about the case, “I have been honored to be a part of her journey and it never would have been my journey without Child Advocates.”
One of Sue’s other cases involves 7 children who have bounced between family members, foster care and residential placements since the case began. The children are all in different placements except two who are placed together. The older girls have been on the run a lot, but currently seem settled in their respective residential facilities. All the children struggle academically, and the biological parents have always struggled with housing, substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health challenges. The father will remain incarcerated for a lengthy period. Recently, the DCS TPR petition was dismissed because no pre-adoptive homes could be located for these highly traumatized children. To make matters worse, throughout the case, there has been ongoing DCS case manager and service provider turnover.
This case is clearly daunting, but Tom praises Sue’s unyielding efforts, “She has remained a beacon of support, persistence and constancy for all the children and caregivers. Encouragingly, the tide seems to be slowly turning. Sue typically logs in excess of 20 hours per month on this case, traveling to see kids in East Chicago and Portage, Indiana. She communicates with me regularly about the kids’ status, always appears in court and remains focused on establishing permanency for the children.
Sue is undeterred by the hard realities of this case and intends to continue to advocate for these children until they are placed in safe, stable and nurturing homes. Sue provides leverage in an overwhelmed system.”
And that is the power of a CASA volunteer! Thank you, Sue!