May 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Kevin Montagne
We invite you to meet Kevin Montagne, nominated by Case Supervisor Allison Conner.
“Kevin has worked on five cases since becoming an Advocate in 2020,” Allison said. “On his current case, he has worked closely with the medical teams involved in the case and he continues to build family connections for the children.”
We asked Kevin to share his experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I have been a CASA Advocate for almost three years. I am (mostly) retired. I am a husband, father of three adult children, and grandfather of seven. I was very involved in youth ministries across Texas and other states when my three children were younger. Having worked with children from a wide variety of backgrounds helps me to better see the world through their eyes.
How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?
As my kids grew older, I missed working with youth and having the opportunity to impact their lives. My youngest daughter has a master’s degree in counseling, and she told me about the work that CASA does for children. It sounded like something I would enjoy and would give me a chance to get back to working with children.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
My first concern was making a mistake and it negatively impacting the lives of children. The second concern was wondering how being so close to the challenges that children are going through would affect me. Would I internalize some children’s pain, burn out, or grow numb? I overcame those doubts by understanding there is a host of people involved in the process and there is no isolated responsibility. Now I focus on the difference I can make in a child’s life.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it important for a child in care?
Numerous professionals (attorneys, caseworkers, counselors, judges, etc.) are looking out for the best interest of children in foster care. The challenge is that all these people have many other cases that compete for their time. By taking one or two cases at a time, a CASA Advocate can work with various professionals, caregivers, and family members to focus on the needs of a small number of children. An Advocate can amplify the voice of children and be an independent set of “eyes and ears” to the court advocating for the children’s best interests.
What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?
The most surprising aspect is how fun advocacy is. The children I have met and interacted with have enriched my life. I enjoy being able to get to know and help them. The other surprising part is how much the judge and other parties in the case want to hear the Advocate’s views about the children.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate? Most rewarding?
It can be challenging when a case is over, and you realize you will not see the children regularly, if at all, again. At the same time, it is very rewarding when a case is over and you see the positive impact you’ve had on a child’s life.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
The need is more significant than most realize—both in terms of numbers and the circumstances the children are faced with. Children want and deserve the chance to just be a kid in a safe and loving environment. There are many ways to help, whether it is as a volunteer Advocate or by giving time or money to help the cause.
What have you learned about children in care?
I have learned that the system can be hard for children and parents to navigate. So many new people come into their lives all at once, but there is always room for another caring adult to focus on the child’s well-being. In Montgomery County, I know the judge, caseworkers, attorneys, and Advocates really care about the children in foster care and assisting their parents in trying to make reunification possible.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
One of the best moments I can talk about as an Advocate was sitting in the living room with two children and their parents the day after the judge signed the order to dismiss the case. It had been ten long months for the family, and it was gratifying to know that reunification was in the best interest of the children.
Anything else you want to share about casa?
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is an excellent organization full of caring people. The training and support from Case Supervisors are awesome. Come help us make a difference in the life of a child.