The Heart of CASA: November 2022
The Heart of CASA is a new series to highlight the aspects of our volunteer work. Advocacy for a child in care covers several activities from court hearings to visits with a child to conversations with parents. Each month, we’ll share a story of a small moment from one of our cases that exemplifies what advocacy can mean to a child and their families.
Connection in the Gardens
Since we moved into the CASA house one year ago, it has become much more than an office space for our staff. It is a hub for Advocates before a court hearing, a haven for a child testifying in court, a spot to meet with our partners. Amid the activity of our busy workdays, it has also become a nurturing place for parents and their children to rebuild connection. CASA welcomes parent-child visits at the house, when supervised by Child Protective Services.
Exploring with Mom
In a current case, an Advocate arranged for a mother, Sarah*, and her one-year-old son, Caleb*, to have their weekly visits at CASA rather than the CPS office. The Advocate believed it would be a more comfortable environment for both mother and child, and CPS was happy to move visits to CASA. For several weeks, Sarah and Caleb have had the run of our gardens on sunny afternoons and access to our TBRI playroom on rainy days. Caleb delights in all the sounds, sights, and textures of the gardens. He chases butterflies with Sarah following right behind him.
Captivated by the garden, Caleb is learning while playing with his mother as his guide. They are finding connection while healing their relationship during these two-hour visits. When they need to rest, the gazebo provides a shady spot for a snack. If it’s too hot to play outside, Caleb loves the playhouse in the TBRI room upstairs in the carriage house. His favorite activity is to play “surprise” by ringing the doorbell of the playhouse and Sarah swinging the door open for him.
Sarah shared with CASA that the child’s Advocate, her caseworker, and the supportive foster family have helped her remain sober and work toward reunification with her son. The CASA case supervisor said that Sarah’s mood always brightens when Caleb arrives at the house. With the support of CASA, CPS, and the foster family, Sarah is working hard to finish her services and heal her trauma so that she can care for Caleb. Caleb adores his afternoons with his mom, and the connections they’ve built at the CASA house will echo throughout their lives.
*Names changed for privacy