In 2017, Voices for Children launched its Juvenile Justice program, serving youth who have committed minor, nonviolent offenses and would greatly benefit from Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). CASA Tara is an extraordinary example of why CASAs are uniquely positioned to help foster youth in the juvenile justice system. Leveraging the expertise of CASAs in advocating for the best interest of children in foster care, they can help the juvenile justice system through the CASA Model approach and prevent youth involved in both the child welfare and the justice systems from “falling through the cracks.”
CASA Tara has worked diligently, going above and beyond to support *Andrew, a teen living in foster care who has been brought into contact with the juvenile justice system, having had 11 placements over the past three years. CASA Tara always makes sure to have consistent visits with Andrew. Because CASA Tara cannot always connect with Andrew in person, she has created special virtual activities with Andrew via Zoom. Knowing Andrew enjoys playing board games and cooking, CASA Tara prepares “no cook” recipes. She sends a box of ingredients to Andrew, and the two prepare tasty meals together. She also got a hold of identical board games so the two could play them during Zoom calls. Over the past year, these activities have formed a close connection between the two, and Andrew has come to see CASA Tara as someone who always shows up and supports him. At the same time, CASA Tara has also worked closely with Andrew’s little brother’s adoptive parents to arrange visitation. Andrew has opened up and genuinely connected with the CASA through this invaluable support.
This year, CASA Tara attended Andrew’s hearing to advocate for his placement with his maternal grandfather. Through her deep understanding of what Andrew needs to thrive, the Judge ordered a placement plan that includes weekly visitation between the grandfather and Andrew. Additionally, CASA Tara worked hand in hand with the attorneys working on the youth’s case to look into placement with the maternal grandfather and his resource family approval status. Discovering it was approved, they worked with the grandfather to create a transition plan for Andrew. When Andrew’s individualized education program (IEP) was lost during school transitions, she also worked with an educational attorney to establish a new IEP that listed her and Andrew’s grandfather as educational rights holders. She is now working with the grandfather and a translator to ensure the grandfather has all the support, information, and resources to support Andrew best.
Name: Tara B.
County: San Diego
Became a CASA: 2021
Favorite Quote: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
– Disney’s Mulan
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 to protect confidentiality