Tina, a 20 year old single Mom, found she could not care for her two children. She could not afford to feed them. She gave them to her grandmother in Brooklyn, but her grandmother was evicted from her apartment. The two children were placed in foster care.
Tina was a young woman with a rough, abusive background – no help, no support and all the odds stacked against her. Pregnant at 16, she had dropped out of school. When we first met Tina in court, there were no smiles, only tears. The attorney for the children and the attorney for Tina were treating her like “just another file.” Negative feedback only made Tina withdraw further into herself. There seemed to be no turning this around; she was going to lose her two children forever. The CASA advocate started spending time with Tina. All she needed was someone who took the time to care: a helping hand, and an encouraging word, which she so seldom heard. She needed someone to believe that she had some kind, any kind, of potential. CASA worked with the social worker assigned to the children and enrolled Tina in individual therapy and parenting classes in preparation for dealing properly with behavioral issues once the children could return. Tina also enrolled in Suburban Technical School where she has a B+ average and will graduate soon as a medical assistant with placement in a hospital. She plans on continuing school to obtain her LPN so she can build a stable future for her family. The judge relied on the CASA advocate to be her eyes and ears; to come forward with the correct information regarding the children, Tina and the foster parents; to make sure the adequate resources were made available and the orders placed by the court were acted upon. CASA lent a helping hand to someone who grabbed it and held on for life!
The Long Island CASA Programs are foster care advocacy programs in which trained volunteers assist the Family Court by fact-finding, interviewing, and reporting on children in foster care.
Volunteers, known as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are interested men and women from all walks of life, trained by EAC Network to work with program staff and the courts. When a case is assigned to a CASA volunteer, (s)he will speak with caseworkers from public or private agencies that are caring for the child. (S)he will interview caseworkers, and will make visits to the child in the foster home. Other parties to the case who may be contacted include school officials, therapists, doctors or family attorneys.
CASA volunteers are trained in the laws and procedures surrounding the foster care system, how to interview, write reports for the court, and work with families within the foster care system.
Interested in becoming an CASA Volunteer?
- Call for more information: Nassau 516-539-0150 X137, Suffolk 631-853-4260 or email Dawne Smith, Esq., Case Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
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