When I first became a CASA, I was scared. During training, they told us about a current case that was very challenging, and I raised my hand to volunteer for those children. But when they actually assigned it to me, I questioned whether I was worthy of that confidence.
The case was a set of siblings – a 10-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl, and their 18-month-old brother. Their home situation was difficult, to say the least.
As I learned about each child, I discovered they each had their own set of needs. The 10-year-old had not been attending school, so he was very behind in his education. The 5-year-old had not had much social interaction, and she struggled to know what was socially acceptable. And the 18-month-old was completely non-verbal when he was removed from the home.
Over time, I built trust with the children by giving them their own voice. I let them know their opinions matter, and we did activities that interested them.
As we spent time together and I began to gain their trust, I also worked “behind the scenes” with caregivers, teachers, and other professionals on the case. We went through testing with the 10-year-old, and I was able to get him the extra help he needed to get caught up, including an Individualized Education Program (IEP). He even joined karate!
The 5-year-old was a spunky little thing, and we were able to help her learn about herself and find ways to channel that energy appropriately. She started doing gymnastics recently!
Their 18-month-old brother eventually gained independence and started speaking! That was a huge moment for him.
In training, a Child Advocates’ staff member said something that stuck with me; “CASAs are often the only people that aren’t paid to be in the children’s lives while they’re in foster care.” It was such a powerful statement. These children need someone in their corner. Knowing that is what inspires me to continue serving as a CASA. It is one of the hardest things, and one of the most rewarding things, I have ever done.