Peggy has advocated for four children living in foster care over the past five years
(December 14, 2023) RIVERSIDE – Founded in 1980, Voices for Children transforms the lives of children in foster care by providing them with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). These volunteers – trained and supported by Voices for Children – advocate for youth in court, school, medical settings, and more to ensure their needs are met. Over time, a CASA often becomes the most consistent adult in the life of a child in foster care. Each year, the organization honors one special volunteer who has gone above and beyond in advocating for youth living in foster care. The Voices for Children Riverside County 2023 CASA of the Year is Banning resident, Peggy Huetten. She was recognized on Tuesday, December 12 at the Riverside Elks Lodge.
Peggy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and lived in a multicultural community, growing up with a sense of appreciation for different cultures. Her upbringing led her to have a career working with disadvantaged populations in higher education. Working in various fields, such as education, social services, and non-profits, Peggy has strong interpersonal, organizational, and technical skills. She is a dependable, responsible, caring person who is innovative and resourceful when helping others in need. When Peggy moved to California, she was retired and looking for a new volunteer experience. She first heard about Voices for Children when her son advised her to consider becoming a CASA volunteer as he felt she had the skills to advocate for children and would be a good fit for the organization. In 2018, CASA Peggy had her first case child assigned.
CASA Peggy has been a fierce champion for children in foster care, having advocated for four children over the last five years. This includes her current youth, who met CASA Peggy in May 2022. She has been a guiding light for a then-17-year-old youth who was seven months pregnant at that time. Peggy has been a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, and a steadfast advocate for her youth and newborn baby.
Many CASAs hold educational rights for their assigned child, which means they serve as the point-person for the youth’s academic needs until they turn 18. CASA Peggy has worked tirelessly to help her youth be a first-time mom and understand her responsibilities as she becomes an adult. CASA Peggy was a key resource who dedicated time to teaching her how to navigate the healthcare system, ensuring that her baby received necessary healthcare services.
The advocacy of CASA volunteers is vital to promoting the health and safety of children and youth in foster care. Children in foster care have often experienced abuse and neglect. Foster care placement compounds their already challenging circumstances with court hearings, social workers, attorneys, new homes, and new schools.
A CASA like Peggy can, over time, become a hopeful presence in a child’s life and the person who the child knows is always there to listen. Peggy has worked through many challenges in her cases, all with the utmost perseverance. Her goal for all her case children has been to create an individualized path to success. Not only has she accomplished this goal, but she has exceeded expectations every time. Peggy is a “glass half full” individual, which shows in her advocacy.
“Becoming a CASA has changed my lens on the world. I am a better person as a result, infinitely more empathetic and less judgmental of others, more patient, persevering, and above all more grateful for the blessings I have in my life. It has been an honor to serve as a CASA in the community,” said CASA Peggy.
“Peggy radiates positivity and joy in everything she does, and her welcoming personality puts everyone at ease. In her time as a CASA, she has visited children, schools, foster homes, and parents and provided the court with insight into what is in the best interest of her case children’s lives,” said Voices for Children’s President & CEO Jessica Muñoz, Esq., MFS. “Peggy displays resourcefulness, empathy, and perseverance on behalf of her assigned youth. We are grateful for her advocacy and her dedication to helping our community’s most vulnerable children for the last five years.”
There are currently 173 youths in Riverside County foster care on Voices for Children’s waitlist for a CASA volunteer. To learn more about the valuable work of CASA volunteers and take action to make a difference, please visit speakupnow.org.