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June 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Sharon Daniels

We invite you to meet Sharon Daniels, nominated by Case Supervisor Erica Avedikian.

“Sharon has a tremendous amount of compassion and empathy for the children she serves and their families,” Erica said. “She works to understand all aspects of a case, so that she can make recommendations in the best interests of a child. Sharon values developing strong working relationships with everyone involved in a case.” 

We asked Sharon to share her experiences as an Advocate.

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

I am a wife and mother of three and have been blessed to be an adoptive mother to two. With all the challenges and experiences we encountered, I knew I wanted to volunteer in this field once they became adults. My passion for children started early as I partnered with my husband in the children’s ministry at our church, assisting him while he served as the youth pastor. In addition, I served as a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program through my job. I have served as an Advocate for three years and believe my passion and ability to connect with children and adults helps me be successful in this role.

How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?

I first learned about CASA through our own adoptions. Years later, I saw a commercial for CASA and decided I would pursue this volunteer work in retirement. During COVID, I had the opportunity to take the training, as I knew I was nearing retirement. It was the best decision I made as it has been very rewarding, and I love making a difference in the lives of children.

Did you have any reservations about volunteering?

Being a bit of a perfectionist, I was concerned that I would make mistakes that may negatively impact the case. However, after taking the training, I knew I would have a support system in the staff that could help guide me through the process. I rely heavily on the experience of my supervisor, and she remains readily available to discuss concerns and to guide as needed.

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

As an Advocate, I partner with other professionals to work in the best interest of a child in the foster care system. Due to turnover, multiple caseworkers have been assigned to my cases. My first case just closed with the child being adopted by maternal relatives, and the adoptive dad introduced me to extended family as the one constant person on the case for the last three years. As the constant presence in the case, CPS, attorneys, the court, and the family often relied on me for details and follow-up to address concerns. A child in care deserves a committed person who they can rely on seeing each month and working on their behalf.

What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?

I’ve been most surprised about how much the Advocate’s recommendations are valued in court hearings. Each time I attend court, I feel that all parties rely on CASA’s involvement and recommendations. While I’m serving as a volunteer, I’m equally respected and trusted as the professional parties in the case. I have also been pleasantly surprised to see County Court at Law 3’s transition to a trauma-informed court. The judges have embraced the role of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® in the lives of parents and their children.

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

The most difficult aspect of volunteering as an Advocate is learning the court process and terminology. Developing a bond with the children in my cases has been the most rewarding part of Advocacy. It makes my heart glad for them to be excited to see me each month!

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

Children in care need much love, patience, and support. Some of their behaviors are a result of their experiences, and they simply need everyone to understand the impact of trauma on their lives. We’re all shaped by our experiences, and offering the gift of grace and understanding goes a long way.

Advocate Sharon Daniels in courtWhat have you learned about children in care?

Children in care want the same things as other children—a safe and loving environment to grow and thrive. However, because neglect or abuse has brought them into CPS care, these children often have to deal with emotions and issues that most of their peers may not have to deal with at the same age. I’ve learned the importance of working together with all parties toward the goal of family reunification, if safe and possible. I’ve gained a new level of understanding for how difficult these cases can be while trying to obtain that goal.

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

I recently attended the adoption hearing for my first case! Due to the amount of people there that day, the child and her family were seated outside of the courtroom until their case was called. When the child walked in, I was waiting for her at the bench. She ran to me, hugged me, and stood beside me for the start of the proceedings. I love the bond that I was able to form with her and to be a part of her story!

Anything else you want to share about casa?

If you want to make a difference in the life of a child, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is an excellent organization to do so. Being a consistent supporter in the life of a child experiencing difficulties will forever impact them.

change a CHILD’s story today. impact our community forever.

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