This month, we’re excited to recognize two exemplary Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers. Read on to learn how each made a positive impact in the lives of the youth they serve.
“Ben” entered foster care in 2012 because of abuse in his home. Luckily, he was quickly assigned a CASA volunteer, and over the next six years, she became the most consistent person in his life. Unfortunately, the volunteer had to resign for health reasons, and Ben was placed on the waitlist for a new CASA.
After about a year of waiting, Ben was matched with Sam, a young professional and student at the University of San Diego. When the pair first met, Ben was failing most of his classes and struggling in life. Sam was determined to do whatever he could to help Ben get back on track.
Sam began visiting Ben weekly. (Some of their favorite activities include hitting the batting cages, playing pickleball, sharing delicious meals together, and seeing the sights at the San Diego County Fair.) Sam found ways to hold Ben accountable, but also make it motivating and fun.
After a little more than a year together, not only has Ben’s mood lifted, but his academic performance has also improved. He boasted four As and three Bs on his last report card! Ben might not be thriving the way he is today if not for CASA Sam’s consistent support.
Ben calls Sam his biggest role model. He’s ours, too.
Volunteer Name: Sam W.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2019
Advice for new CASAs: “Never underestimate the impact that you will have on your case child as a CASA, but also keep an open heart because you will help them grow, but they will definitely have an unbelievable impact on you, too.”
When 17-year-old “Jenny” was first paired with CASA Nanette in early 2020, the high school junior and youth in foster care was behind in school and struggling. Her challenges were only exacerbated when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to transition to virtual learning. Jenny’s dream of graduating on time seemed out of reach.
Eager to support her assigned youth, CASA Nanette jumped right in. The judge on the case assigned Nanette to hold Jenny’s educational rights, and Nanette began checking in with the school on a weekly basis. She attended each and every Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting to ensure that Jenny’s academic services were maintained. Also, Nanette helped determine that Jenny was eligible for AB 216, which allows youth in foster care who had changed schools to meet a modified set of graduation requirements instead of those laid out by the local school district.
Last July, after one-and-a-half years of dedication, Jenny walked across the stage to receive her diploma (with CASA Nanette in the audience, of course.) Elated, Nanette texted her advocacy supervisor at Voices for Children, “My girl is graduating tonight!”
Thanks to CASA Nanette’s unwavering advocacy, Jenny not only caught up, but was able to graduate high school on time with the rest of her peers!
Volunteer Name: Nanette P.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2015
Advice for new CASAs: “It’s wonderful when you and your case child form a strong and lasting bond, but be aware that that may not happen quickly, if at all. The important thing is that you are there for them and that you are providing resources and experiences that no one else can for them right now.”
You, too, can make a difference in the life of youth in foster care. Learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer.