Here in Allen County, community members from all walks of life are investing in futures. Not in the Stock Market. Not with money. But investing their time and talent in the lives of children. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are appointed by judges to advocate for children’s best interests. This best-interest advocacy makes a life-changing difference for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect, many of whom are in foster care.
Allen County CASA Volunteer Jan Haigh is a strong advocate for children. When asked why she became a volunteer, Jan said, “I retired at age 75 and still had a lot of energy. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity to use my background in psychiatric nursing and OB (obstetric) nursing. I saw CASA on TV and that’s when I called the CASA office.” Jan also had an interest in learning about how the court system works. “I had a fascination with the law. I almost went to law school! I couldn’t make that work at the time, but with CASA I have seen how the court system can make such a difference in people’s lives.” Jan also enjoys the close connection to the children for whom she advocates and their families. “The children are always happy to see me! There are two little boys, in two separate families, who drop everything and come running to me yelling, ‘Grandma!’” Jan also commented, “The foster parents that I’ve worked with have been wonderful. They create such a loving, caring environment for kids.”
CASAs have a role both in and out of court:
• Building relationships with children and visiting them at least once a month.
• Gathering information from the child, parents, relatives, school officials and other individuals regarding the family. The information is used to develop a family history and assists with making recommendations to the court.
• Reporting to the court both in writing and verbally during the court hearing, as needed. Recommendations made by CASAs are based on the best interests and needs of the child.
• Monitoring all aspects of the case, including the child’s placement, services for the child and family, and compliance with court orders.
There are currently more children in the court system than there are volunteer advocates. Allen County CASA is looking for people who want to invest in the future of these children. Contact CASA at AllenCountyCASA.org