Joshua (age 12) and Jackie (age 10) are now safe and stable in the permanent guardianship of a relative. Jackie expresses a desire to be happy in life, and Joshua is a smart kid but tends not to show it. Each child is great with pets and able to connect with peers and teachers in their own special ways. Both children struggle with problem solving and managing their anger appropriately.
From full time doctors to full time parents, retired lawyers to retail employees, CASA volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Their stories are as unique as the 1,528 Lane County children in foster care this past year but their reasons are all the same – they are here for the child. They volunteer their time to advocate and to be the voice for abused and neglected children in our community.
In 2014, we wanted to give potential volunteers a glimpse of what it means to devote your time to an organization like CASA of Lane County. The Volunteer Corner focused on the experiences of one CASA volunteer and we want to expand on that for the new year. Anyone who has worked with children will tell you it truly does take a village to raise a child, so we are going to spend 2015 introducing you to the amazing people who make up the CASA village, starting with Matt Tomashek.
Last week, I attended an interesting CASA continuing education event regarding foster children and PTSD.
Our next CASA training class starts in January. I’ve met with a couple of people who have had questions about the CASA time commitment. I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the questions with all of you. And while each and every case is unique, some of the basic elements of how much time you’ll spend on your case is pretty consistent.
Two brothers, Adrian (18 months) and Cyrus (4 years old), were taken into foster care when their mother was arrested for involvement with drugs. Like many other children removed from their homes, Adrian and Cyrus’s path easily could have led to adoption. But their mother did not let that happen. She followed through on every requirement the court gave her. She successfully completed drug treatment and has remained drug free for the past year and a half. She recognized that it was critical to ask for help rather than struggle alone, and she reached out and found ongoing support from her parents, her counselor, and the DHS caseworker.
Brian was 11 and his sister Lily was 13 when they were taken into foster care. They were living with their mother in a house piled high with trash. They rarely attended school, and when they did they were filthy. Brian and Lily were not fed healthy food or taken to the doctor when they needed care.
Five years ago, Alex became the CASA volunteer for three siblings: Abigail (age 7), Madison (age 5), and Rachel (age 1). The children were removed from their mother’s care because she abuseddrugs and brought criminals into their home. Two years later, Alex took on advocacy for one more when the mother gave birth to little brother Gavin.
Visiting your kid, or kids, at school is a very important part of the observation process as a CASA volunteer. It’s important to see how they interact with other students and their teachers. It’s also helpful to see them engaging with friends. This gives you a good idea of how they’re adjusting, or where they need more support.
Julia, who had suffered from abuse at a young age, first met Christine when she was assigned to be Julia’s Court Appointed Special Advocate. Although Julia was in 5th grade, she was barely reading at a 2nd grade level.