At the end of the day, teenagers in foster care want the same things as any other teen: to fit in, go to school, hang out with friends, and just feel normal. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer Lisa helped make that happen for 16-year-old “Annika.”
Annika entered foster care at age 6 and has been in the system for more than a decade. In recent years, she has been living in a group home, an environment in which she struggles. For example, group home staff are required to check on residents during the night. Annika would feel so much anxiety anticipating these checks that she often didn’t fall asleep until the early hours of the morning. She desperately wanted to live in a home with a family. CASA Lisa stressed this in court reports, ensuring Annika’s wishes were heard by the judge.
Soon after, a foster family was identified! CASA Lisa played a critical role in the transition plan. She took Annika on her first visit to meet the potential foster mother and helped arrange subsequent visits. CASA Lisa did all she could to set them up for success, such as talking with Annika about house rules and privileges that could be earned.
CASA Lisa also spent hours researching schools in the area, listening to the needs of Annika and her foster mother, and making phone calls. Eventually, she found a school that would be the best fit, and the team agreed that Annika would be enrolled there. Today, Annika is doing well at her new school, and CASA Lisa, a former teacher, continues to help support her educational needs.
While there were bumps in the road during the transition, CASA Lisa was there every step of the way. Thanks to her CASA’s support, Annika is happy and thriving in her first home placement in years. (In a recent call with Voices for Children Advocacy Supervisor Sarah, the teen expressed how happy she is.) CASA Lisa invests so much into supporting Annika and is an example of the profound impact a CASA can have.
Volunteer: Lisa M.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2021
Occupation: Former teacher/theater artist
Favorite part of being a CASA: My favorite thing about being a CASA is actually my CASA youth! She is a light in my life, and I THOROUGHLY enjoy the time I spend with her. She keeps me young and in the know about slang and trends and trials of a modern teenager’s life. Even when there are difficulties – and my youth has had a host of them – we manage to enjoy each other’s company. We have so much fun together!
Advice for new CASAs: Be consistent. Be a person your CASA youth can count on to show up, on time, as planned. Be clear, set healthy boundaries, and listen! I hope other CASAs are having as much fun as I am!
You, too, can make a difference in the life of youth in foster care. Learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer.
Names and details have been changed for confidentiality