CASA helps foster kids in neediest time SanTan Sun News

CASA helps foster kids in neediest time

CASA helps foster kids in neediest time
Opinion
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By Rebecca Pusch

Guest Writer

 

Nearly eight years ago, I felt called to help children in foster care. I knew there was a need for foster parents, but at the time my husband and I didn’t think we could make that commitment with two young children already in our home. 

 I had heard about the CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, program and decided it was time to take another look. 

Many CASAs are incredible mentors to the children they serve, but the primary reason CASAs exist is to be a voice for the child.

They are at least the one constant, caring adult involved in their court case to help the process stay on-track and ensure the child leaves the system as quickly as possible.  CASAs are the eyes and ears of the judge, providing information about every facet of the child’s life to help the judge make the best decision for the child.

CASAs also have an incredible ability to directly help the children and their caregivers in getting the services they need.  

I had one CASA child who was living in kinship care, or with a caretaker that they already share a close relationship with. This family already had several children and agreed to care for three siblings, doubling the size of their family overnight.  

One of these siblings was only 8 and extremely hard of hearing. He wore hearing aids, but his were old and broken. The kinship family was doing their best, but were overwhelmed with many new demands and navigating the system. 

They were running into roadblocks in getting him new hearing aids.  Armed with my court appointment, I was able to get him the help he needed and not long afterward he had his new hearing aids.

My husband and I were inspired to become foster parents from this child’s experiences.

 Even though the siblings were eventually reunited in the same kinship home, they spent their first month in foster care  — including Christmas — in separate placements. 

The 8-year-old spent that month in a group home because there was no licensed foster home able to take him. Shortly after the case ended, my family became a foster family.

 Although I no longer serve as a CASA to a specific child, I use the skills I learned to advocate for the foster children in my home. 

CASAs are 100 percent volunteers, and also cover their own expenses, including travel, to visit the child and attend appointments and hearings.  

Within reason, CASAs also provide small gifts and pay the cost of any activities they do with their CASA child. One of the nonprofit organizations that helps CASAs provide both necessities and fun for their CASA children is Voices for CASA Children. 

VOICES provides gas cards to some CASAs who have extremely high travel costs, helps CASAs with continuing training materials and also helps provide Christmas gifts and school supplies. 

VOICES has been a great help to both myself and other CASAs throughout Maricopa County. It takes a community to help, and with caring individuals helping the program grow, we can continue to help children in need. 

Information: voicesforcasachildren.org 

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