Once a child enters the juvenile dependency system, a variety of professionals are tasked with ensuring that that youth is safe, is being cared for, and receives the services and resources they need.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers work in tandem with these professionals, including attorneys and social workers. In honor of Social Work Month this March, we are sharing a case which highlights the collaboration between CASA volunteers and social workers in advocating on behalf of a child.
CASA Karen and Roland
When CASA Karen was first assigned to Roland’s* case, the boy’s caregivers did not encourage communication between her and the child. Whenever CASA Karen spoke with Roland over the phone, it was clear that his caregivers monitored the conversation and would influence the level of information Roland shared with her. To further complicate the situation, Roland’s caregivers resisted her visits, making it very difficult for CASA Karen to complete her required monthly visit and, ultimately, to develop a bond with her assigned youth.
The social worker assigned to Roland’s case was also aware of these communication barriers. Both CASA Karen and the social worker were concerned about Roland and wanted him to freely express himself without the presence of his caregivers. CASA Karen collaborated with the social worker and, after six months of being assigned to the case, was at last able to solidify an in-person visit with her assigned youth. When that visit rolled around, Roland was able to get everything off his chest without the supervision of his guardians. He shared some concerning pieces of information with CASA Karen that he otherwise would not have shared over the phone under his caregivers’ watch. CASA Karen reported these concerns back to the social worker, and together, they connected with other professionals on Roland’s case to address and resolve those issues.
Thanks to that one visit, and thanks to the help received from the social worker on Roland’s case, CASA Karen was able to better develop her bond with Roland and even resolve some of the challenges he faced. The social worker later praised CASA Karen for her unyielding determination to connect with Roland despite the barriers set up by his caregivers. Both professionals did a tremendous job in advocating for a child who hadn’t had a voice of his own.
Advocate for a child in foster care
Like CASA Karen, you can give a voice to a youth in local foster care. Take your first steps towards becoming a CASA volunteer in San Diego County or Riverside County by signing up for an online Volunteer Information Session today.
*Names and other identifying features have been changed to protect confidentiality.