I was assigned to work with two children, an 8 year-old girl and a 5 year-old boy. Their resource parent had been taking care of them for the past two years and was eager to adopt them both. But there isn't always a black and white picture of what is best for a child. In this case, their biological mother had never been abusive. Rather she had an intellectual disability. I cried at court when I heard the psychologist give testimony that despite all interventions, she did not possess the mental capacity to care for two children. Still, an appeal was filed and with the question of parental rights hanging in the balance, there could be no further talk of adoption or other plans for the future.
That was the first time I realized the gravity of our work as Advocates. Where will these children live? Who’s family are they a part of? Will they succeed in school? I knew that as a CASA Advocate, I could help make a positive difference in their lives. For example, one thing I’m really proud of was helping to get speech therapy services for the youngest child. Because of his mother and sister's disabilities, he had been exposed to very little conversation in his early childhood and had no speech patterns to mimic. I requested services twice at his old school where he was declined and then again at his new school. Finally services were put in place. It surprised me how powerful it can be when there’s someone there to double-check or make a simple follow-up call. That might be all it takes to help a child get on the right track.
As a CASA Advocate, we knock on doors, we send emails, we make phone calls. We talk with professionals, teachers, and family members. And all those little efforts add up to potentially life-changing events in a child’s life. I volunteer with CASA because foster children, just like anyone else, deserve to have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. And I believe that every small act of kindness does indeed give a hurting child back their voice.