Impact CASA has on the Life of an Abused or Neglected Child
~ As Demonstrated by Advocate Katy Dalton ~
Each month, the program team at CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties recognizes the phenomenal work of one amazing advocate – CASA’s Advocate of the Month. Several months ago, that advocate was Katy Dalton, who has diligently and compassionately worked on a case with an incredibly difficult situation in order to ensure that the children she represents are safe and well cared-for. We then asked Katy to share the impact that her CASA kiddos have had on her and the importance of her work with the CASA program. This is Katy’s story.
“By the time the CASA is assigned to the case, it’s usually been open for several weeks to several months. When you arrive, the children have already had their worlds turned upside down. A series of adults have abruptly entered their lives, from case workers and social services organizations and therapists to guardian ad litems and judges. Many of these professionals work tirelessly to serve the children with whom they work, but they don’t have the luxury of being able to focus on a single child or family. A CASA provides that focused attention as a dedicated resource for advocating and giving a voice to those children. While you’re not the only person on the case, you have a unique role and a great opportunity.
The children in my case have had a terrible year. A family tragedy combined with being removed from their parents and placed with relatives has been difficult, to say the least. It can be hard to see the struggles they are going through. My job as a CASA is to go and visit and listen. During some visits they’ll talk endlessly about school and friends, and other days they’ll just shrug and give one-word answers, if that. It’s all part of the process of building relationships and nothing happens overnight; patience is key. Right now they are moving forward with their lives by going to school, playing with friends, and planning their costumes for Halloween. I know they probably have a long road ahead, but so far they’ve proven to be amazingly resilient. My hope for them is that they’ll always be able to look back and remember that there were people who were willing to listen and give them a voice during a very tough time in their lives.
There are some days where being a CASA volunteer is fantastic; seeing a reunited family or attending adoption day are true highlights. And then there are challenging days, too, but there’s no other volunteer work I’d rather do. When you advocate on behalf of someone, regardless of whether it’s a child or simply someone who may not be able to speak for themselves, you’re truly empowering them. Everyone has the right to be heard.
The “real-life” work of being a CASA is nothing like I originally imagined, but it has been wonderful and has taught me many things. At the top of that list are the following:
- Nothing is black or white. Every case is different and the situations are often complicated. An open approach and compassion is vital.
- Actions speak louder than words. In the eyes of the child, you are judged by your actions. When you show up consistently for visit after visit, it matters and makes a difference to them (even if they don’t say so).
- Doubt happens. There may be times of true triumph when it’s obvious that your efforts have made a difference, but there are also times where results are more subtle, or not visible at all. In these moments you have to remember that no effort spent advocating for a child is ever in vain.”
This year alone, over half a million abused and neglected children in our country will be unable to live safely at home. Over 1,300 of these children live here in Adams & Broomfield Counties. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A CHILD
CASA recently launched a new Peer Coordinator Model which will enable our program to meet an incredible goal: we will serve 100% of the children in need of caring and compassionate CASA volunteers by the year 2020. Using this new model, 120 new advocates, along with our current advocates, will serve a total of 800 children this fiscal year. This is where you come in
We are looking for individuals who are interested in becoming CASA Volunteer Advocates, individuals who want to make a difference just like Katy Dalton. CASA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that recruits, trains and supports dedicated community volunteers to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children who are involved in the court system, through no fault of their own. Through CASA you can help ensure that children who are in foster care or in the care of the county are placed quickly into safe, loving, permanent homes. You can also help advocate for their best health and educational interests.
Over 75% of our volunteer CASAs have full-time jobs and families; many others are retired or semi-retired people that continue to make a difference in their communities. All it takes is 10-15 hours a month of your time and the desire to make a difference in the life of a child!
Please join CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties for ‘CASA 101’ on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at ACED, located at 12200 Pecos Street in Westminster for an introduction to the CASA organization and the volunteer program. Enjoy delicious refreshments and learn how you can become an advocate for a child who needs you!
CASA staff members and volunteers who are active on CASA cases will be on hand to speak with guests about the program, as well as help those interested in taking the next step to become a volunteer. CASA’s next volunteer training class begins on January 12th, so this is the perfect opportunity to learn about and get involved with this wonderful organization.
For more information about ‘CASA 101’ or to RSVP, please contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.655.3924.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Adams and Broomfield Counties is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that works to make sure that every child who cannot live safely at home has a caring, compassionate CASA Volunteer who will help fight for their right to be safe, ensure that they are treated with dignity, and assure their safe passage out of foster care. Building a stronger community for all. Each year, in Adams and Broomfield Counties, there are over 1,000 children who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused or neglected, and who are in desperate need of a caring, committed CASA Volunteer to speak up for their best interests. In Adams and Broomfield Counties, there are over 280 CASA volunteers, but we are in need of more great community members to become advocates for children. CASA conducts volunteer training classes three times a year. For more information about CASA, call 303.654.3378 or visit www.casa17th.org.