By Susan Emfinger, CASA Director of Outreach and Engagement (and Former Foster Youth)
CASA is so very grateful for the support of our community and of our CASA volunteers. Because you are already part of the CASA community, chances are you know that foster care is, by its very nature, one of the most isolating experiences a child can have. I know this for sure, because I was in foster care – without the help of a CASA volunteer. Removed from our homes due to abuse, neglect, or the death of family members, we live from day to day in fear of being removed from our current living situation, again and again.
Even with the current crisis aside, the contact between CASA youth and their biological families is already limited and/or sporadic, at best. Even when a child is placed in an optimal foster care situation, and even though judges these days are trained to listen to children more than ever before…there are no guarantees of stability in any form. Every six months a CASA youth’s past is re-evaluated, his or her living situation is actively reviewed, and ultimately, foster youth live in fear that the judge hearing their case could, even with the best intentions, once again turn their lives into turmoil.
Almost nothing in a foster child’s life is constant, or consistent. Nothing…except a CASA volunteer. CASA volunteers are often the closest, most consistent relationship in a foster child’s life. Especially during the coronavirus crisis, they provide at least some of the stability that the child has lost through being placed in foster care.
- They are authorized by the courts to be involved with every single aspect of a child’s experience while in foster care: they are authorized to see all records and to work with social workers, school officials, medical personnel or therapists in that child’s best interest.
- They meet with the child once a month, at minimum. Even during Covid-19, they are online or on the telephone with CASA youth monthly, at minimum.
- Even via telephone, they are trained to listen to each child’s daily experience, to ask the child what his hopes, dreams and goals are, and to rally people and resources to help that child achieve them.
- Through active listening and through asking heartfelt, sometimes even challenging questions, CASA volunteers help their youth to problem solve and to surmount challenges.
- Through their consistent contact and presence in each CASA child’s life, CASA volunteers provide that invaluable feeling of reassurance that comes from knowing that, whatever happens, one person will be there, always.
Because CASA youth continue to need the help of CASA Volunteers, and because you support CASA, we continue to be able to provide the support that helps those many youth who both need, and deserve, CASA’s help.
Today, more than ever, I thank you so much for being a part of the CASA community.