This has been a crazy year – the pandemic, the shutdown, the loss of income, security, education and lives. The list of traumatic experiences is often too much to comprehend. As unbearable as our recent lives are – some of these experiences are not new to children and youth living in foster care. In fact, our current health crisis, in many ways, makes their burden heavier.
Imagine that you are a child experiencing abuse or neglect and you are removed from your home for your immediate safety. Everything that you know and love is missing. You are in a strange home in a different town – your life is shattered.
The child did not cause their removal, just as we did not cause this pandemic. Both situations, however, force us to adapt to the circumstances and trauma that it causes. Adults adjust to changes more quickly than children which is why providing a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to a child living in foster care – especially during this health crisis – is critical.
The support that a CASA volunteer gives is remarkable. They establish a relationship with the child and makes sure their best interests are a priority. They present well-researched, comprehensive reports to the family courts making recommendations that affect the overall wellbeing of each child. Most importantly, they ensure that the child receives the care and resources they need and helps them return to a safe home.
During COVID, a CASA volunteer can be a lifeline for children disconnected from school, friends, and their families. At the start of this pandemic, CASA volunteers quickly adapted visits to online sessions so that they could continue to see and interact with the children and help them feel connected. They make sure that family visits remain a priority and that critical needs such as groceries, technology for school, and other essential items are available to the children. Most importantly, CASA volunteers help guide the children through the trauma of the removal and the added anxiety of this pandemic.
Someday, COVID will diminish but the trauma and challenges faced by a child who is removed from their home and placed in foster care will still need the hand of a CASA volunteer to help lightened the burden. That hand can be yours.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children’s mission to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation to protect a child’s right to be safe, treated with respect and to help them reach their fullest potential. For more information about CASA, visit AtlanticCapeCASA.org.