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!
A Day in the Life of a CASA: Audey Lee
CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act. Audey Lee embodies this CASA mantra as a former CASA volunteer and current SafeCare Home Visitor. Lee has been involved with CASA since 2011 after moving to the Classic City of Athens, GA. It was an event ad in Flagpole Magazine regarding children’s rights that first caught Audey’s attention. With one of her main interests being the rights and welfare of our youth, she soon found herself attending a CASA orientation session.
During her time as a CASA volunteer, Audey’s typical day consisted of five things: calls, diligent search, research, writing and spending time with the children. Throughout her CASA tenure, Audey was responsible for three children. Her days included calling the children’s relatives, forming relationships with schools and police departments, creating medication and incident charts and completing court documentation. Lee stated that her top priority was the diligent search, an ongoing part of foster care in which CASA volunteers locate relatives of the children. But what is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of a CASA’s day? Spending lunchtime with the kids at their school! Audey told a story of driving 4-5 hours to see a child for only half an hour. For Lee, the distance didn’t matter, only the child.
Lee finds that the best part of being a CASA is spending time with the kids and seeing how much there is behind the surface. She says, “It’s more than just documents. Seeing them face to face is clear and the struggles and strengths become clearer.” Although it can be emotionally challenging knowing the difficulties of a child and engaging with the families, Audey has gained a unique experience and many powerful memories. For example, Audey will always remember helping a child celebrate his birthday when no other family was around.
Audey advises new CASAs to keep an open-mind because you will receive lots of information, but there is always more information available. She also stresses a sentiment that she wishes she would have known - remember to look to your fellow CASAs for support. When asked why others should be CASAs, Lee cheerfully says, “Because it is the best way to spend your time to create the most change in a child’s life. It’s a unique experience that teaches something else about the world that they wouldn’t otherwise learn”.
Are you ready to be an Everyday Hero? Apply to be a CASA, and you can help raise a child's voice!
Children First, Inc., home of the Athens Oconee CASA program is located at:
693 North Pope Street
Athens, GA 30601
Staff working hours: Mon - Fri 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Building hours: Mon and Wed only 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.