Almost 2 years ago a friend from church suggested that we would be interested in this wonderful extended ministry. We attended a meeting and signed up for the wonderful classes that prepared us for the work we would do . We knew this was a volunteer job but the rewards were great from the start. We got our first assignment with 3 children 8, 5 and 7 months. The goal was reunification with their Mom and hopefully in less than a year. Our visits with the children and Foster parents led us to a love for a new family. The Mom worked really hard and was reunified in 11 months. We miss them but our goal was so rewarded that we pray for them and hope to keep them with Mom forever. We have a second case and it is with only one child but a great Foster family and a hard working Mom who wants her son back. My husband and I work as a team and we can talk about our case so this helps but the great meetings for the volunteers help us to share our stories and the group called the Wing Society takes care of the volunteers so if you want to know how caring they are you need to be a volunteer too. Calvin and Sonya Rodriguez
I've volunteered all my life with groups trying to make a difference with children. CASA of Central Texas is the best place I've ever volunteered in the way they fully empower their volunteers with the training, authority, tools, and support to truly make a difference. I can really dive in, do research, contact people, and stretch my ingenuity, knowing I can also pull back to meet the demands of my own personal life when I need to because I have a supervisor who can pinch hit for me. And I enjoy my CASA youth and am gratified by his growing trust in me. This is a role that fits my unpredictable lifestyle and helps me grow personally while making a difference for a child. For me, that's volunteer heaven!
I'm on my second case and have had a wonderful experience working with all the program staff at CASA of Central Texas. They have a great training program and their casework supervisors are very supportive! It's a great organization to spend my time volunteering for!
What a joy my last case was advocating for three siblings. It was a blessing that they were in a wonderful foster home with a couple who wanted children but could not have any. Everytime I visited them are had the priviledge of taking them on an outing I was so rewarded. This case had a happy ending as the foster parents were able to adopt all three. They now are well adjusted and belong to a happy family. I have actually formed a friendship with the foster/adoptive parents. The experience can be heart wrenching at times dealing with the background circumstances but knowing that CASA is there for them means so much.
My first case as a CASA is coming to a successful close. My "CASA baby" is being adopted by her foster parents! This has been a very rewarding experience but I know that not all cases turn out perfectly. I'm looking forward to my next case, regardless of the degree of difficulty because I know that CASA volunteers make a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Becoming an Advocate for CASA has changed my life. I am a mother of three children and the love, time, shelter, security I can provide for them is why I wake up each morning. Knowing that they are kids without a voice.The essential needs as a human being are not provided and to add that up that have been abuse . It is a matter of committment to help .To be the constant person with love and respect that can help them experince a new look in life. I believe once you discover your mission and knowing in how many ways we can contribute for to do what is right , to do what is a call from the heart, to be the ear that listens, the hand that touches their heart with love, the voice that speaks , the eyes that see what is the Best Interest of that child is a reward a gift to be call for . We need to create awareness and create a sense of alertness and move in the direction to help. CASA is Wonderful.
I became a CASA in11/1999 for a half-brother and half-sister who were in emergency care. They had been exposed to violence, neglect and sexual abuse. Later, they were placed in foster care. The sister was returned to the mother just over 2 years later, after the mother successfully completed her court plan . The brother is still in foster care (14 different placements), due to the profound effect of his early experiences and lack of appropriate family willing to take him. The biological father sued for custody of the brother, and it was denied by the court due to the revelations in a forensic psychiatric exam and testimony of witnesses. The brother will age out in 5/2011. The brother is emotionally disturbed. This CASA believes he will have problems as an adult with socializing, hygiene, and holding a job. Even though he has significant problems, he has made remarkable progress from the age of 6 to the age of 18.
During 11 years, I have had 2 supportive and encouraging CASA supervisors. The CASA staff has generally been very helpful. Because of the 1 hour drive to court and the CASA office and 1 hour back, it has been difficult for me to have a desired, shared experience and comaraderie with other CASAs.
The district attorneys office generally has been supportive and encouraging. Child Protective Services is often "asleep at the wheel"--uninformed, unresponsive, and not looking out for the child's best interests. In my opinion, the problem with CPS starts at the top management level, trickling down with supervisors not checking on caseworkers' work and helping them do a better job. Top management and supervisors need accountability. The foster agencies are generally uncooperative; and, so are many foster parents who work for them. Agencies, foster parents and CASAs need a better understanding of each others' roles.
There are training requirements to become a CASA; however, on-the-job experiences are where I have learned, by far, the most. Lack of cooperation from parents; foster parents and their agencies; and CPS has made my job more difficult.
I am "retiring" from CASA when the young man ages out. It has been far more time-consuming than I would have imagined, especially in the first few years. There might be more retention of CASAs if time involvement were explained more realistically, especially for people like me who have jobs.
My experience as a CASA Advocate has been rewarding. Being able to offer information to the children's school staff when they are moved from one school to another can help the children I serve have a better opportunity to succeed in school. I am a advocate for the children I serve and share this information with the judge.
When we go to court, the girls I serve, know they can depend on me to be there for them and to bring them some treats and things to do as we wait.
My CASA supervisor is so knowlegable and helpful when my case may take some challenging turns. She offers me good advice and is always supportive and appreciative of my work as a CASA. Being a CASA is rewarding and a good way to give back to my community.
I joined CASA of Central Texas in 2006. Shortly after completing a well designed training program taught by A CASA staff member who also is a volunteer advocate, as is the case with most of the staff, and many of the members of the board of directors.
I was offered a case. Seven children, ages 3 to 17 were removed from their mother. For some of the older one, it was the fourth time to be removed for abuse and neglect. They had two older sisters who were "aged out" - no longer under the protection of the State.
There were 6 biological "fathers", 4 of whom were in state prison. My supervisor told me that they would assign another advocate to help me because these children were scattered out. It's virtually impossible to find a qualified home that will take that many siblings. After reading the affidavit, I told her that these children needed one person that knew and worked with all of them.
Visiting each of them a minimum of once a month, advocating for them with their schools, foster homes, court and the Department of Family & Protective Services, and assisting in gathering them together regularly for visits kept me busy. It also blessed me beyond description. My rather bazaar career choices, teacher, peace officer, and school counselor, along with being part of the Kairos Prison Ministry gave me unique experiences that would allow me to serve these children in special ways. Clearly God was gently leading me toward this role.
Long hours on the road, heavy gas bills, aggravation with some of the adults in their lives, having to over come an understandable ingrained distrust of adults from the children made this a daunting task. Being able to have a part in protecting these wonderful, rambunctious kids makes those "problems" pale.
I still have one left, the only boy. He will "age our" in a few months. Three of the girls were adopted by their original foster mother. Three have aged out, and the youngest was adopted by a family member. Two of them ran away from their placements several times, at time staying gone for months at a time. They would occasionally call or text me to let me know how (but not where) they were. Last Fathers Day, I received a "HAPPY FATHERS DAY JIMBO!!" from the boy who was on runaway status at the time. Jimbo is my chosen name.
I'm convinced that every time a court appoints a CASA to a child, God smiles. I've learned that "I love you Jimbo" from a child that can't say that to a parent is more beautiful than any symphony I've ever heard.
This program is crucial to children whose parents can't or won't care for them, love them or protect them. There are not enough of us, there is not enough funding to increase the wonder staff that is crucial for our support, for recruiting new volunteers, and training them.
I hope you can find it in your hearts to help us continue advocating for these precious children, and recruit and support more volunteers.
I was a CASA volunteer in Missouri for over six years and have recently joined as a volunteer advocate for CASA of Central Texas. It is truly amazing what CASA does on behalf of abused and neglected children all across the US. In general, the case workers at the departments that handle child protective services for each state carry very heavy case loads that prevent them for focusing on individual cases to truly advocate in the best interests of individual children who are removed from their homes. As a volunteer, I am able to zero in on specific needs of a child (or children) and make meaningful recommendations to the court on what will best protect the child. While our hope is for reunification with the parents of a child, our primary goal is insure the child is able to return to a permanent, stable, safe and nurturing home as quickly as possible. I particularly appreciate CASA of Central Texas because permanancy within 12-18 months is a goal that is supported by Texas Child Protective Services, and the courts.