Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers have the unique opportunity to support at-risk youth in the courtroom and beyond. Over time, CASAs become adults that children can rely on, learn from, talk to, and spend time with. Some CASAs act as the only consistent adult in a child’s life, so their presence and reliability are crucial factors in helping establish healthy relationship expectations.
This month’s “Inspiring CASA” highlight celebrates the bond between CASA Erin and her case youth, “Lena,”* and shows us the small ways in which a CASA can be there for their assigned child.
Fifteen-year-old Lena is currently placed at home with her biological mother. This home environment can become stressful, and when feeling overwhelmed, Lena has run away from home in the past. This behavior is particularly dangerous because Lena is a former victim of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), so it is vital that conditions remain calm enough for Lena to remain in the safety of her home placement.
When Voices for Children paired the two together, CASA Erin immediately took steps to develop a safe bond with her case youth. CASA Erin established herself as someone who was in Lena’s corner, and who was willing to listen if ever the young woman needed to talk. Lena warmed up to this new, positive adult in her life, and soon after, she and CASA Erin were spending time safely distanced on Lena’s front porch, taking walks together around the park, and completing shared art projects. Lena found that she could rely on CASA Erin to listen to her problems and provide a sense of ease and calmness in response to Lena’s tense home situation.
The professionals on Lena’s case noted recently how the teen has made tremendous progress in combating challenges brought on by the trauma she experienced while a victim of CSEC, and identified CASA Erin as the primary contributor to Lena’s success. With a healthy, positive adult bond, Lena is now able to make safer decisions and has greater confidence in herself.
Like CASA Erin, you can positively impact local at-risk youth by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer in San Diego or Riverside Counties. To learn more, sign up for an online Volunteer Information Session today.
*Names and other identifying features have been changed to protect confidentiality