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February 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Danny Valdez

Advocate Danny ValdezWe invite you to meet Danny Valdez, nominated by Case Supervisor Rosario Salinas.

“Danny has a big heart and an open mind,” Rosario said. “Without making judgements, he learns as much as he can about a child and their families so that he fully understands their needs and can advocate for their best interests.”

We asked Danny to share his experiences as an Advocate.

Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?

I had a troubled and complex childhood and young adulthood. By age 26, I had lived in 22 different homes in several cities and states. My parents were separated and officially divorced by the time I was two years old. I experienced all kinds of abuse most of my young life, truly seeing the evils of the world. I had one person who was a constant in my life, my aunt. She was a major positive influence on me. As an adult, I became a cobbler and boot maker, which taught me that a vision could become a reality. I learned how to work hard and be great at my craft. These experiences give me an understanding of what the kids we serve may go through.

How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?

I recall sitting on the couch, and the name CASA flashed through an app ad or something—I’m not sure. This prompted me to search CASA on the web. Once I began to understand what CASA was and how volunteers could have a positive impact, it made me remember my aunt and her influence in my life. I reached out via the CASA website to learn more about how I could help.

Did you have any reservations about volunteering?

Not at all. I was all in from the beginning.

Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it important for a child in care?

I’m working on my first case, and I’ve reached many family members and had hours of conversations to locate a potential placement. I also spend time following up on important documents in order to keep the process moving forward. When you have a relative or fictive kin get involved, they may not even know the child was in need at all. Navigating the court system, CPS, and other agencies is quite overwhelming for them. Family members have told me that they just loved talking to me because they felt so calm afterward. It is blessing to be of service to the families.

What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?

How many children are in need in our community.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate? Most rewarding?

Advocacy requires time to contact kin, research legal docs, and keep up with all the departments that may be involved. The most rewarding thing is realizing how much we can positively affect these children and their futures by volunteering to help them.

What would you like the community to know about children in care?

A child is born innocent. Environment, education, and experiences are all factors in how a person relates or behaves toward others. I have experienced how it may be easier for some to see a child in care as a problem due to their behavior rather than a victim.

What have you learned about children in care?

I’ve learned that kids adapt and shift to the situations they find themselves in. Kids in care long for love, and they often feel shame or guilt for the outcome of their cases. Our communities could do more to reach young parents before they get involved in the child welfare system.

Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?

The child I serve was led to believe that his paternal family was unwilling to love and care for him. After a visit with his paternal grandmother, he clung to her and cried. He did not want to leave her. That made my heart cry for him.


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