Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers take on many roles: Cheerleader. Defender. Mentor. Friend. The list goes on. CASA Malinda is perhaps best described as Problem Solver. Malinda was assigned to 19-year-old Lila’s* case in February and has made an incredible impact in just a few short months.
Lila entered the dependency system at age 11 after her mother was incarcerated for drug trafficking. Between 2013 and 2020, Lila lived in more than 20 different placements. Last year, she turned 18 and entered extended foster care.
The transition to adulthood is hard for any young person, but it can be especially challenging and scary for youth in foster care with no support system. This past summer, Lila learned that she was being evicted. She found a new apartment and paid a large deposit online, only to discover it was all a scam. With no money and no other options, the teen was facing homelessness.
When CASA Malinda learned about Lila’s predicament, she jumped into action and looked into every possible resource. The day before Lila was to be evicted, Malinda secured her a room with Interfaith Community Services that was safe, private, and free. Together, Lila and her CASA made a budget recovery game plan, utilized resources through Just in Time, and applied for the Voices for Children (VFC) Transitional Age Youth Emergency Housing Assistance Fund. The VFC team helped move Lila’s belongings into a storage unit until she found permanent housing.
Not only has Malinda ensured that Lila’s physical needs are met, she is also focused on her emotional wellbeing. Lila has two younger brothers who are also in foster care; the boys live apart from her and have a CASA of their own. The siblings rarely saw each other, but the two CASAs made it a priority to coordinate visits.
“She is her happiest I ever see her during these [sibling] visits,” Malinda shared.
CASA Malinda has been there for Lila during an extremely overwhelming time in her life. Today, Lila has a stable living situation, just started a new job, and is feeling hopeful about the future!
Volunteer Name: Malinda M.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2021
Advice to new CASAs: “The journey as a CASA is a roller coaster. Some days are great and some days are a real challenge and some days are both! Remember that even if you can’t see the impact you are making that your continued presence and care is making an impact and difference. It may not be seen today, but it is something your foster kid will have to rely on today and refer back to in the future as they grow and mature through life’s ups and downs!”
You, too, can make a difference in the life of youth in foster care. Learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer.
*Name and identifying details have been changed for confidentiality