CASA & Child Abuse Awareness
On April 2nd, we had the privilege of attending the CASA Promise of Hope Luncheon. CASA (which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates) is an organization that recruits, trains and supports community volunteers who advocate in court to ensure children are placed in safe homes with hope for a positive future. During the luncheon, we heard from CASA founding members and staff, as well as a moving testimony from a former foster child. We were proud to be in attendance with one of our staff accountants, Holly, who is a CASA advocate and was an event committee member. Today we would like to share her story about why she became involved with CASA.
“My husband and I were foster parents for about 3 years when we went to a conference where someone spoke about CASA. That was the first time we were introduced to it and it really tugged at my heart. I decided to become a CASA volunteer. We had been witness to the “process” for several years and while lots of people speak the words “in the best interest of the children”, few people really take the time to understand what that means for each child. But a CASA does. Being a CASA makes me feel like I make a difference one child at a time. Every foster child deserves a CASA. I put all my effort into a child – meeting with them every week and really getting to know them. I talk with their teachers, therapist, doctors, case workers, birth parents, foster parents and relatives. I am the only person on a case that is not paid; it is purely a volunteer position so everyone feels more comfortable with me knowing I have no agenda. I have spent countless hours playing skipbo or just listening to music with teens when all of a sudden they start to open up and tell me things they have not shared with anyone else. I sit next to them in court, comforting them as they hear all the details of their life quickly re-capped by a DA, their parent’s defense attorney and a judge that quickly makes a decision that sometimes sounds like some sort of code. However, the judge knows that child better than they can understand because I have written a report to the judge that tells of their fears, accomplishments, struggles, and most important, what they want. I am their voice when they can’t speak up for themselves. I love being a CASA. It means I get to help a child form bonds and they will have that life skill forever. Being a CASA, in my opinion, is the missing puzzle piece for a lot of kids in foster care. You become the link between the kids and the adults who feel like they know what is best for the kids just by reading their bio or stopping by to check on them occasionally. I have been a CASA for 4 years now and I plan to continue to be a CASA because it’s the best way I have found to “fix” the process.”
We learned from CASA that more than 4,200 children in the Kansas City Metro area are victims of abuse and neglect. If you would like to learn more about CASA and how you could get involved, visit their website here.