For most people, it’s hard to imagine going through their school years without a parent – someone they could count on to buy school supplies, attend sporting events, and more. However, that’s often not reality for the roughly 250,000 school-aged children in foster care nationwide. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers can help fill that void, like our San Diego County CASA of the Month, Jennifer, did for “Jules.”
CASA Jennifer was assigned to Jules’s case in late 2019. Jules, 17, experienced physical and sexual abuse in her past. When CASA Jennifer started advocating for Jules, she realized the teen missed nearly an entire year of high school, as well as changed schools several times. She requested to hold Jules’s educational rights and gained access to monitor her grades through the school portal. CASA Jennifer also attended all child and family team (CFT) and individualized education program (IEP) meetings to ensure Jules had every tool and resource she needed to succeed. (Jules was determine to graduate with the rest of her peers.)
CASA Jennifer learned that Jules had a passion for novels and loved to read. She used that interest to spark conversations and revolved their visits around trips to local bookstores. This allowed their connection to grow and the two to create a meaningful relationship over a common interest.
As Jules’ senior year was winding down, CASA Jennifer knew prom was on the horizon. Jules had made great progress at her current school, making new friends and participating in school activities. When CASA Jennifer learned attending the dance was important to Jules, she was determined to make it happen. She recognized that this would be a great way to acknowledge Jules’s hard work and the dedication it took to graduate on time.
CASA Jennifer began researching prom attire and reached out to her Advocacy Supervisor for help. She shared that she had no experience in renting a tuxedo, which is what Jules wanted to wear. After requesting funding from Voices for Children’s Academic Attainment Fund, our donor approved purchasing both Jules’s prom ticket and outfit, making her dream come true. CASA Jennifer and Jules found a tuxedo shop and rented a tux for the big event. Jules had a blast on her prom cruise and has tons of pictures to hold that memory, just like any other high school student. Since prom, Jules has graduated from high school and started attending a local community college.
“I love to see my kiddo succeed. It makes me so happy and so proud to see how far she’s come in all aspects of her life – social maturity, her educational accomplishments, and her outlook on the future,” CASA Jennifer said of Jules. “She’s grown so much since I’ve met her. She has really worked hard to get where she is, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see what she does in the future.”
Volunteer Name: Jennifer L.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2019
Advice to new CASAs: Ask lots of questions. There are no stupid questions. And be consistent. Even if it’s just a text or a call, remind them that you’re there and you will be there if/when they need you.
Favorite Quote: There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
You, too, can make a difference in the life of youth in foster care. Learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer.