November 2022 Advocate Spotlight: Kristina Harris
We invite you to meet Kristina Harris, nominated by Case Supervisor Mike Quinn.
“Kristina joined CASA as an Advocate earlier this year,” Mike said. “She is already on her second case. She is putting her heart and soul into an extremely complicated and difficult case.”
We asked Kristina to share her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I was a psychology major, and I interned for Justice for Children in my twenties. I was overwhelmed by the horrible things that happened to children in those cases. Now I’m a stay-at-home mom with two children, a teen and pre-teen.
How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?
I was at a tennis tournament that Shellie [Tyrell, CASA’s Recruiting Manager] spoke at. I decided it was time to do something in child advocacy now that I’m older and my schedule with my family is more manageable.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
Yes! I’m still overcoming them. I was worried about the time commitment, personal involvement with the kids, and responsibility I’d feel. I’m still working on that. I’ve been an Advocate for eight months, and I’ve served nine children. There were three older children in my first case. It closed when their grandmother came to Texas and took them out of state. I was in court with Mike that day and told him I wanted an infant for my next case. He then asked me to take this case with six children all ten years of age or older. It’s been an adventure.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it important for a child in care?
You build a relationship with the children and caregivers and try to learn what is in their best interest in each circumstance. You advocate in every way you can, medical, educational, and permanency. The children need someone who listens to them without bias and who can make independent recommendations to the court.
What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?
I’m most surprised by how the children react to me, how much the older children want to talk to me. No one has listened to them. They want to tell you things.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a casa? Most rewarding?
The most difficult part has been becoming emotionally involved and not being able to do more for the kids. The most rewarding aspect is every time I see the kids, their faces light up and they want to tell me all about what’s happened since the last time I saw them. They trust me.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
They need and deserve help. They want help and want someone to listen and show that they care.
What have you learned about children in care?
Children in care have often been through a lot more than we know. A lot of them have been involved in the child welfare system more than one time. They’ve had more than one bad experience in life.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
I’m moved by the way all the organizations work together. On this case, I needed beds for five kids. The placement didn’t have enough. I called Sleep in Heavenly Peace at 5 p.m., and they delivered beds the next day along with bedding in the exact colors the kids requested. I teared up; it was incredible.