Tuesday, September 4, 2012

CASA Stands for Something

Today I had court observation for a new volunteer opportunity I'm pursuing. I'm going to be a CASA - a court-appointed special advocate. My job will be to advocate for my case child - one who is a dependent of the court, one who needs some consistency in his or her life. I am responsible for being a go-to.

I will be visiting with a foster child whose case has been assigned to me. I will work with a social worker, possibly foster parents, school teachers, and every other person that plays a significant role in the growth of any child.

CASA is a national organization and is something I've wanted to do since college. At one point I thought I'd become a social worker. At another time, I thought I might become an attorney. This volunteer opportunity kind of combines the two a little. In California, the branch of CASA is called Voices for Children.

If you sign up to volunteer as well, you go through intensive training. They are flexible for those who have working schedules and the training I attended was in the evenings after work. Today observing the court docket in the juvenile court, that was my last "duty" as a CASA trainee. Next week I will be sworn in by a judge and I will officially be an advocate for a child.

I am a little anxious, but mostly looking forward to the challenge. Children should receive equal opportunities, more than anyone. They are just beginning to form their dreams and gain useful knowledge and if it's stunted with emotional distress or physical abuse or a combination of the two plus being taken from placement to placement, it can really disrupt them from the path of success. More importantly, it can derail them from the path to happiness.

I wish that being a CASA means that I was going to change the world. Or, even change a child. But, what I really expect is to show up where I'm expected. I want a child to know that there are people who want to show up for them when they say they will. I want to teach them about accountability and dependability. I can do that be simply showing up. That's what they've taught us in our training. Hopefully, that is what I achieve during my 18 months dedicated as a CASA.

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