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CASA blog | Will You?

February 10


Written by Melissa Cruz, Advocate Coordinator


There’s a line from an Ohio CASA video – asking for people to consider becoming an advocate – that completely connected with me when I first began training.


“You don’t have to raise them. You just have to raise your hand...Will you?”


I remember just wanting to literally raise my hand!

When I first began sharing with people about my journey into an advocate role – I was surprised by the comments. “How can you do that work?” “I don’t know how you do it.”

“That must be hard – I couldn’t be a CASA.”


Phrases like these comments have come my way. And I get it.

As advocates – we get it – it’s just understood there may be some challenges due to the nature of this work.


A CASA performs the same role as a Guardian-ad-litem – only we are not attorneys. Our program was founded with the idea of training volunteers from within the community for advocacy work.


The role of an advocate is focused on the child or children – specifically finding out what is in their best interests concerning their placement and services for the family once there is court involvement.


I’ve shared this before – although much of what the CASA does is background work and a lot of listening – the advocacy is not quiet. Essentially – the CASA speaks for the child in court. An advocate gathers information to provide detailed court reports concerning the child and family. Advocates keep showing up for the child. We visit the home of the mother and the father – even when that is separate, different homes. The CASA visits the child monthly – wherever the child is, whether that’s in their parents’ home or a kinship caregiver’s home – or foster placement. Advocates show up for all court hearings and any meeting pertaining to their case. An advocate could acquire and have knowledge covering hundreds of pages – and within the CASA’s report there’s a recommendation from all the work.


We work with families in crisis. Children need a life with stability and a safe home. We advocate for that. Case backgrounds include domestic violence, drug-addicted parents, abusive partners, and parents with mental-health concerns. This is real life … and sometimes it’s difficult to learn about what’s going on behind closed doors.


One of my advocates recently shared about a time with the teenager on her case. “I just wanted her (the teen) to relax and talk,” she said. The advocate had the idea to find out what the young girl’s favorite card game is and then she set up a visit – on a holiday. The advocate brought the cards and they played four games together. Then, she won three out of the four games against the teen girl! I told her she should have hidden the “Draw Four” cards! This is such a reminder how teenagers like attention and want to be heard. This CASA advocate created a moment for them to experience together.


One of the most inspiring aspects to this work for me has been the commitment I have seen from our volunteer advocates. I admire the dedication they carry into what they’re doing for the child.


“You don’t have to raise them. You just have to raise your hand...Will you?”

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