CASA Court Appointed Special Advocate Program
Intriguing, isn't it? In August 1985 an article appeared in the Fort Wayne newspaper seeking volunteers for the new Court Appointed Special Advocate Program. I immediately wrote for an interview.
I worked a full-time job, but on my day off while waiting for training to start I did office duties, and then in December I was appointed to my first case. I was married, had 3 children (2 still at home), and 3 step children in and out. Why would I want to devote so much time and energy to a program working with abused and neglected children? I believe we are shaped all during our life by the choices made for us and by the choices we make ourselves. My parents divorced when I was 3 and my brother was 5, they remarried, had new families, and we were raised by grandparents. I always had a picture in my mind of being on the outside looking in. That remains even today and that has encouraged me to devote my time to children who are facing the same fears and thoughts. We volunteers make home visits, we contact all parties involved in our case, and we write detailed reports for use by the court. CASA Volunteers have constant face to face contact with their children. Sometimes the relationship with all parties can be strained, parents may resent you being in their life, but you have to remember you are working for the best interest of your children. It has to be your driving force.
Over the 30 years I have been a CASA Volunteer, I've been afraid, angry, so frustrated at choices made by some, not always agreeing with the judge, but not willing to give up and walk away. I've had cases close, and think do I want to travel all these miles, all the time gathering information, not treated well sometimes, and I had to put that aside. I've had so many cases in 30 years, have met them again, had them call me by name and remind me I was their CASA Volunteer. I've seen children adopted into good homes, so happy... what a blessing. During this journey I call life, I adopted a daughter, and bore 2 sons. I've been employed as a child welfare caseworker, been a foster parent, and a CASA Volunteer for 30 years. Friends are not telling me to retire, but can I? I've said if I don't do it, WILL YOU?