During a time marked by uncertainty and constant change, the consistency and dedication of our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers shines bright. As our staff and volunteers continue to meet the needs of children in foster care, we are sharing their inspiring stories. Today we share the story of CASA Carolina and “Hannah.”*
CASA Carolina was assigned to 6-year-old Hannah’s case in September 2019. The little girl had entered foster care when her mother left Hannah and her siblings with a relative who could not care for the children. The mother was using drugs, so much so that Hannah and her siblings were able to describe how their mother prepared her drugs. Upon entering foster care, the girl was placed in a local group home.
In October 2019, Hannah was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that can be caused by drug exposure in utero. Her cardiologist explained that the defect would have to be corrected by a surgical procedure, which would require overnight hospitalization. When the surgery was schedule for May, CASA Carolina immediately spoke with Hannah’s social worker and attorney to discuss the possibility of Carolina supporting Hannah in the hospital. Since Hannah’s parents are not involved in her life and because Hannah is placed in a group home rather than having foster parents, Carolina knew she was the only consistent adult in the girl’s life and wanted to be sure Hannah didn’t wake up in the hospital without a familiar face.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, CASA Carolina’s request had to be elevated, and Voices for Children staff worked to ensure the proper approvals were in place leading up to the surgery.
When the day of Hannah’s surgery arrived, even more complications arose. Carolina was at the hospital at 6:00 a.m., and cardiology was having trouble receiving the proper medical authorizations by fax. The hospital was considering re-scheduling the procedure, but because Carolina was present, she was able to notify the social worker and ensure the authorizations came through.
Not only did Carolina pave the way for a necessary procedure, but she spent the entire night with Hannah in the hospital following surgery and was able to see her through a successful discharge.
As Hannah’s social worker said of CASA Carolina, “It is rare that I have met someone so passionate and selfless about helping others in need.”
Like Carolina, our CASAs are often the only consistent person in children’s lives. During this unprecedented time, their presence – whether virtual or in rare in-person circumstances – is not only critical for ensuring children receive vital services, but also for providing children with the comfort of a familiar face.
If you would like to become a CASA and provide critical support to a child in foster care, RSVP to attend one of our upcoming virtual Volunteer Information Sessions. You can also help to provide this unique advocacy by making a donation to support our CASA program.
*Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality.