CASA program affiliation: Washington County
Supervisor: Tasha Walls
Motivation for Becoming a CASA Volunteer: My passion is women and children. As a volunteer for Office of Community Grant Management, Local Management Board of Washington County, I learned of the many unmet needs of families and children in the county. The Office of Community Grant Management awards and monitors grants that serve the community. Some of our recent grants include funding for the Sunshine Center, after school programs for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, mental health counseling for youth in middle and high schools. Our county lags in important measures that are indications of community health. I knew from my own life the power that one caring person can have in the life of a hurting child or adolescent. I wanted to be that person for one or more children in my own community. When I saw the training for Court Appointed Special Advocates over a year ago, I investigated the work of the agency, and talked to community partners. Praise for the work of our community CASA was overwhelming. As I began my first class, and formed relationships with the children for whom I am their child advocate, I was hooked. As someone who is blessed with good health, a supportive husband and family, and time to devote to volunteerism, this is what I was meant to do….
Current case: I am currently the child advocate for two families, a six year old, a five year old, a three year old and a two year old.
Challenges Facing Today’s Foster Children & Youth: Where to start: Many of our foster youth come from families who have experienced devastating poverty, incomplete access to education, incarceration of family members and mental health challenges. The lack of forever families follows these children, and creates great insecurity for these youth. An effective CASA can provide a foster child with an ongoing, unflagging, positive role model, who is a trusted friend, and someone the foster child can count on, even as foster families can change, and parental involvement waxes and wanes. Early, consistent access to education is vital for pre-school children, and a CASA can help assure that these children who are already disadvantaged, achieve kindergarten readiness so that they are on an educational par with their peers. For many foster children, educational prowess may be the only arena where they feel equal to others their age.