A foster parent recently reached out to us to let us know how much having a CASA for their foster child meant. We love hearing how our volunteer impact the lives of children! Below are her words, edited only for confidentiality and clarity.
"I have been a foster parent for about 3 1/2 years. My first placement, I was never assigned a CASA, but at the time when you only know what you know, I did not know what I was missing. Then I had my second placement, and… [November of 2017], about 4 months into our case, we got a CASA... When she first contacted me and said she was assigned as the CASA for our foster daughter, I thought to myself that I have heard of CASAs before, but I also knew it was really special to get one! I called my private case worker to let her know and ask her what exactly to expect, as I had not had one before. And little did I know that having a CASA on our case was such a game changer for the best interest of children. As we all know, case workers have their plates full. But a CASA is a volunteer from the community who has been trained/mentored to look out for the best interest of the children. They are not paid by anyone, but a completely neutral person who wants what is best for the children in care, whether that be reunited with their rehabilitated parents, or recognizing a different path may be best. To do this, they invest in the children, they see the children, they hear the children and the say "you are important, what you think is important, and how you feel is important." They have relationships with all parties on the case and truly invest in the people, which includes the foster children as well as the biologically family. At one of our court hearings the judge said "if you did not have a CASA on this case, this case would look very different right now." Why? Because the CASA has the time, resources and support to investigate the details of the case, to provide as much information to DFCS and the Judge as possible so a holistic view of what is currently happening can be presented for the judge to rule accordingly or make changes or provide different or alternative services. And this is not to negate the role of a case worker or an attorney, it is to provide an extra tier of support and information when helping decide the outcome of peoples lives. When I think of the CASA, I think of her as a private investigator. And on top of it all, my little foster love, absolutely adores her CASA! She gets so excited when she knows she is going to get to see her and talk to her. And even at 4 years old, because there is the time to invest, my little foster love has sat and spilled her heart to her. Our CASA has also been able to advocate to help the children receive additional services that are needed. She is attached to every email sent out and knows more about our case then everyone, because it is her ONLY case. She has attended our foster daughter's visits with birth mom, she brought my little foster love a special little travel bag for her first flight on an airplane, she has gotten her a birthday present, she has see her tears, she has seen birth mom's tears.
It truly does take a village when it comes to Foster Care. There are all different people on a case, whether it is the foster parents, judge, case workers, attorneys, therapists, and teachers. Everyone has a specific and different role to play. My heart is that it would be possible for all cases to have a CASA. Adding CASAs to cases makes the team whole. One thing that I have learned while being a foster parent is we all do the best we can with what we have. This may apply to the birth parents, foster parents, the caseworkers, and even the judge. But one thing that can completely change a case is a CASA, as it allows us to DO our BEST because of what we HAVE. Thank you…[to our foster daughter's CASA].. for everything you do. You will forever be in our lives as someone who loved so well, and fought for what what best for those who could not fight for themselves. Love you!"
Our Athens Oconee CASA just uploaded a video on our Youtube channel! Take a look at why our CASA volunteers describe their work as uplifting, personal, and inspiring. As Catherine Tillman says in the video, it is truly "love in action."
Be sure to like our video to help us win the GA CASA video contest. Please subscribe to our channel to spread the word about CASA!
Our Over the Edge for Kids fundraiser was a success! On Saturday, August 24th, 2018, several courageous volunteers went over the edge of the SPARC building on West Broad Street to support children in the Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County community.
Along with watching our Edgers repel down the side of a 5-story tall building, attendees were able to enjoy face painting, a bouncy house, and live music. For lunch, there were delicious, fresh grilled hamburgers, chips, and tons of other goodies. Plus, local vendors Nedza's Waffles, Kona Ice Athens, and Your Pie were there too!
So far, the event has raised over $21,000 of our $35,000 for children in the community, and there is still time to donate. Click here to make your contribution.
Here is a short video with clips from Saturday's fun. We would like to thank each and every one of our supporters, volunteers, and Edgers. This event wouldn't have been possible without you all.
Good things come to those who wait. A phrase said around the world with no clear origins, but is continuously relevant in the world of CASA. In this success story, one CASA volunteer worked with a family for three and a half years to help bring positive change and reunite the family.
No case is ever easy, but the nerves of a CASA are always higher during their first case. This CASA’s first case involved a family of six – four children and two parents with significant, long-term substance abuse. With the four children separated across the state, none staying in the local area, this CASA volunteer persisted to not only advocate for each child, but to repair a broken home.
In the case, the four children were raised in a two parent household. However, this two parent household was not the picturesque American dream. The case landed into the Division of Family and Children Services due to substance abuse, domestic violence and child neglect. Notably, the children were not taken care of physically and there was questioning over the children’s true biological father. Lots of children, multiple placements and abuse crafted a messy, heart wrenching case from the start.
Admittedly, many cases are bumpy and it’s hard to see a resolution because of all the problems. However, the father made the first breakthrough in this case. He began a drug treatment program. Throughout his program, he received an abundance of family support leading him to doing well in his program. Although the parents did eventually separate, the separation diffused the influence of substance abuse and domestic violence and brought the children closer to permanency
For a while, the mother struggled with stability – possibly due to her own trauma and life situations. But her story does not end there. After giving birth to her 5th child, this mom was able to make a change. Whether it be an influence, epiphany or the urge to be there for her five children, the mother pulls it together. She found living arrangements, obtained a job and began positively parenting her new child. She then began her visitation, visiting each of the four children twice a month at their respective placement as well as their schools.
Throughout the case, the eldest children displayed behavioral issues. The oldest child felt anger towards the mother by refusing visits. How could the issue be rectified? Through effort on all ends. The children need proof from mom, dad and their CASA that someone would be there for them. Today, the family is doing great. The father graduated from the treatment program with everyone, including their CASA, in attendance. The children’s bond with their CASA shined as they embraced her at the graduation.
What helped this family? Parents learning how to positively parent and meeting the needs of their children while CASA sees the case through to the end with continuous support.
Can you commit to being the voice for a child? Fill out an application to be a CASA today!