The followings stories are real and came from the book "Someone There For Me" published by the CWLA Press and edited by National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association. The pictures are royalty free images used to protect the real identity of the foster children.
|My name is Pamela.
|I was 7 years old the first time I was taken from my home. Foster homes came and went. Schools were here and there. Caseworkers drifted in and out of my life. After six years of placement, the court appointed Pat.
Pat came to see me quite often and called me when she couldn’t come in person. She worked with my lawyers to appeal the court’s decision. She got me visits with my old foster family, made sure I was seeing my therapist regularly, and checked with my teachers to make sure I was managing in school. She brought me newspaper clippings of youth who made it through hard times and of students who were able to get scholarships to cover their education.
I never had someone stand for me like she did. She stood before the judges, the lawyers, my mother, and caseworkers and wasn’t swayed by their opinions. It completely amazed me. I trusted her more with every visit. She became not only an advocate but a friend.
Earlier this year, I testified to a legislative committee on behalf of the CASA program. At the end of the testimony I said, “To give a child a CASA is to give them a voice. To give them a voice is to give them hope, and to give them hope is to give them the world”. As a child who was assigned a CASA years ago, I believe that with all my heart
|My name is Archie.
|I was 12 and my brother was 13 when the first-time CASA volunteer met with us in our foster home. I remember the smile on her face and a quality about her that put us at ease. We were in a high level of care when we entered the system because we was angry that our sister was not put in the same home….plus we had been living on the streets, in cars, and in shelters. The CASA quickly learned that we weren’t going to school because we was missing clean clothes, meals, and support that would allow us to make school a priority.
My CASA was there when no one else was. She was there when we fought our biggest struggles in foster care. She inspired us when we felt most uninspired. She motivated us to keep our grades up and stay in school. She also motivated us to dig deep within to overcome our toughest emotions. She gave us a high level of confidence.
My brother and I overcame our challenges and achieved many things. We earn A's and B's and in a much lower level of foster care. My CASA worker helped me to get into activities and take leadership roles. She put forth so much effort to ensure our success and without her immense inspiration and concern, I would not have the motivation or the desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
|My name is Karla.
|I am the oldest of three girls and was often responsible for my sisters-sometimes taking care of them and missing school. Then Kim came along and I was thinking, how can she help me and take time for me when she could be doing things for herself?
Before I met Kim, I was failing all my classes and was not expected to graduate on time. Kim immediately started to help me with my education. She would come and see me once a week. She would organize appointments with everyone in my life : my therapist, social worker, foster mom, and case manager. She made sure everyone was doing what was necessary to help me succeed.
My CASA said that I was working so hard that I deserved to have fun and participate in the senior activities. She convinced me to go to the prom. Kim and I searched for a dress. It was so special for me that she was by my side. I picked a magenta dress that had diamonds around the top and a fluffy bottom. I still have memories about that prom thanks to her. If I had not gone to the prom, I know I would have regretted it.
|My name is Shamor.
|I am a 14-year-old-boy who loves to have fun. Unfortunately the events in my life have not all been fun and games. I have been in the system since I was six weeks old. My CASA has helped me the last several years, since I was eight. She helps me get through hard times in my life. I honestly love her to death. I call her my “White Mama” because I am black, but she treats me if I was her own son.
She is sweet, kind, and she does her best. Sometimes I wonder why she keeps getting me the things I need when I am a real jerk. Trust me on this one, I can be a jerk. One day I figured out it was because she truly cares for the children that she helps.
She gives me the emotional and mental support I need. I have gone through five failed adoptions. I didn’t give myself any credit for trying to make the adoptions work. After the last one I cried for two days straight. She told me that it wasn’t my fault. She made me realize that even though I tried, I can’t make people do anything. She helped me get the hope I needed. After time, I know am advocating for other children to get adopted. Children need families. Unfortunately, children cannot just dream up the perfect family and have that family ensure their safety. Having a CASA has helped me to improve my life. She is truly an inspiration. She has greatly influenced my life. Hopefully I can inspire others to believe in their selves in the way that my CASA believed in me.
|My name is Sonia.
|I am the oldest of seven children. We almost took care of ourselves. I was only fourteen, and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Everybody told us it would be a couple of weeks in foster care but it turned into months, then years.
Suddenly a new person walked into the life of me and my sister. With the constant changing of social workers and counselors, I didn’t know what to expect. She asked us what our interests were, and we set up a time to meet every week. For the first time in awhile I felt that this just might be a good thing.
As the weeks went by, we got to know each other better. I realized I could talk to her about problems, not only personal problems, but problems about the house we lived in. She was our voice, our stability, and our friend.
It turned into a lifelong relationship. She may not have even realized her impact on my life because she was simply just being a friend. Someone you can talk to, someone you can trust. I have found that it’s the simple things that make someone complete as a person.
|My name is Ashley.
|I was two and a half when I came into the system as a result of my mother’s substance abuse. I lived in some homes for a few days, others a few weeks or months. Most homes were kind and tried to care for me, but one was horrendous. They had as many as 16 foster kids, including a lot of babies, in a trailer with only three bedrooms. I was there when I was seven and eight and had to diaper and care for the babies. The worst were the cruel punishments. My younger brother, who had ADHD had other abusive stories from the home. Eventually, the family was investigated. They denied everything so I was branded a troublemaker and sent to a shelter home, leaving my brother behind. Then I got a CASA.
I was in the system five years before I was given a CASA. The system had already taken a toll on me. I was eight when I was assigned a CASA. “I didn’t trust her. She was just another adult in my life making promises that I didn’t quite believe.” I’d like to think that my story has three parts. First is the time I felt like I was lost in the foster care system. Second is when my CASA came into my life. And third is when she helped find a family for me.
A few months after being taken from that abusive environment, my brother and I were reunited in a better foster home. It took two years, and a lot a hard work from my CASA but finally the abusive home had their license was revoked. Although they were able to adopt seven of the foster kids, three years later the parents had been arrested for more than 30 counts of felony child abuse with torture. Nobody believed me then, but they do now.
I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I did, even when I felt all alone and lost I imagined the life that I’m living I never realized what it would take to make it a reality, but I’m certainly glad my CASA did. I know I never thanked her enough, but, without her I don’t know where I would be today.