1. What made you decide to become a CASA?
Many years ago, I received a call at school from a caseworker asking if I had ever had a certain child in my class. After confirming that the bright, clever girl had been in my class, the caseworker informed me that the now 14-year-old girl had run away from an abusive home and attempted suicide through a drug overdose. As the now 14-year-old was coming out of a near coma, the CW had asked her whom she wanted her to contact, and this child only wanted her to locate the three teachers in elementary school that had loved her and encouraged her creative, free spirit. Ever since, I have been haunted by the sad reality that this child had to go back almost 2 to 3 years to find adults who cared about her and with whom she felt safe. Years later, after seeing a CASA billboard, I went home and researched the program. CASA was an answer to my prayers and became my new mission in life!
2. What is your professional/volunteer background?
Professional: I have a Masters Degree in Education with certifications in Gifted and Talented and Learning Disabilities. After 39 years in education, I found a seamless transition for my teaching skills through becoming a CASA Advocate and a mentor in the Kids’ Hope program.
3. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a CASA?
Just do it! Attend the informational meeting. Become a Helping Heart and observe first hand what is expected of an advocate. Talk to advocates who have been working cases and share your questions and concerns.
4. What has been the most challenging part of being a CASA?
Advocates must maintain a balance between their compassion for the children and their objectivity in dealing with the realities and legal aspects of the case in order to make the best decision for the future of the children involved. It is not always easy.
5. What has been the most rewarding part of being a CASA?
Working as a team with my supervisors, caseworkers, and ad litems, I have completed two cases in which all the children involved were placed in good homes that will allow them to live safer, happier lives.
6. Please share a special moment with us about your advocacy work with your CASA kid or on your case.
Up until now, my current child has never had a CASA in the 6 years he has been in foster care, and he is extremely guarded with his thoughts and feelings. I feel great joy that he now smiles when I walk through the door and teases me when he beats me at Master Mind. These are baby steps in breaking down that wall that surrounds him.
“Carol is the GAL on a case and so good at connecting with the child. This child has been disappointed by adults numerous times and has learned not to trust. Carol has been instrumental in building a connection with this child and has been able to get him to trust her and open up. She has been the perfect advocate for this case!”—Casework Supervisor Teri Reed