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May 2024 Advocate Spotlight: Denise DeGeare

We invite you to meet Denise DeGeare, nominated by her Case Supervisor, Allison Conner. Denise has been an outstanding Advocate since 2020, serving on three cases!

We asked Denise to share her experience as an Advocate.

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

Justice and fairness are part of my personality. My nature is to be objective so that helps me blur the noise in a case and focus on the best interests of the child.

How did you become interested in volunteering as an Advocate?

We lived in San Antonio for 30 years. Several of my friends served as Advocates there and talked about it. I knew I wanted to do it once my son graduated. I was volunteering for schools and activities he was involved in. I wanted to apply the skill sets I had to advocating for children. So I pursued that opportunity when we moved to Conroe.

Did you have any reservations about volunteering?

I was concerned about my lack of knowledge and familiarity with the family legal system and making a mistake in regard to that. I addressed those worries by being proactive about attending trainings and asking questions. I’ve had responsible supervisors to lean on and provide education.  

Explain in your own words the work you do as a volunteer Advocate. Why is it essential for a child in foster care?

Within the guidelines set by Child Advocates, I advocate for the child from all aspects—legal, personal, educational, medical—during a transitional time when so many of those things might not be addressed.

What has surprised you most about your advocacy work?

You always hear that the foster care system is broken. It has surprised me how well the system works to take care of children. The court really cares. The caseworkers and attorney really care. You have a host of people working in a positive way to get parents reunited with their children if that’s what they want. It’s a team effort.

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

The most rewarding part of advocacy is working to create positive outcomes for a child and a family. It’s really hard when you see certain parties in a case not working toward that positive outcome, and sometimes we can’t intervene. Though what happened to cause a child to come into care wasn’t positive, it’s amazing to see a parent work really hard on their plan. I love to see a parent making positive changes and loving their child in such a way that maybe wasn’t possible before because they didn’t have the right support system in the past. I love seeing the turnaround.

What would you like the community to know about children involved in the child welfare system?

The kids in our community need you. They need everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to give in some capacity. These kids from hard places—they are the most innocent victims. They need people to surround them with support.

What have you learned about children in care? How has it changed your perspective on the child welfare system?

The children are innocent parties in a troubling situation. What we’ve seen with children in care is, if those issues in the family aren’t addressed, those children are more likely to become part of the system as adults, or even teens in juvenile justice cases. Trauma is often perpetuated in the next generation without intervention.

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

In one of my cases, the judge ordered a child to be placed back with his mom. The mother was elated and joyful to hear those words from the judge. Any time a child is reunited with a parent in a positive way—that’s my favorite memory. In my previous two cases, the kids went to live with family members. Though they weren’t with their parents, it was wonderful to see them with family and witness healing begin in a family that has had so much trauma.

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