YOUR GIFT IS HAPPY ENDINGS
Our staff who work at CASA of Southwest Idaho share stories with each other often.
One came across email last month that read: "My little guy is finally out of foster care!"
Child protection cases can last for years. In this case it lasted nearly 5 years, but it ended happily so all the time was well spent.
A young mother gave birth and was unable to care for her son. She made poor decisions at the time, but has grown and matured. She is supportive of her son entering into a legal guardianship with his grandmother.
While it’s not the typical family that we often see on TV, for this family it is a wonderful situation for all involved. And it was a huge celebration to see this 5-year journey end so beautifully, both healing and redemptive. Our volunteer was present with this boy the entire time he was in care, and a relationship has been formed for always.
It costs about $100 a month to speak up for the best interests of a foster child in Idaho. That means $1,200 will fund the entire year for one child. This child’s case lasted almost 5 years! If you can, please donate so a child can receive funding for the whole year.
YOUR GIFT IS THIS BABY'S FAMILY
Terrible things happen in this world. But sometimes going through dark places gives way to a story with a beautiful ending. I have learned this through CASA.
My case started with a very traumatic event that involved the death of a parent. Unfortunately, the other parent was in jail. They had a baby who was less than a year old.
I found out the mother of this baby had a sister. She lived across the country, but I was able to get in touch with her. She got on the first flight to Idaho! Amazingly, she uprooted her entire life and became the full-time caretaker of this little child. She was incredible!
I remember my last visit… it was right before she was able to legally adopt the baby. Her and I just sat there and cried together while the baby bounced in those jumper things. We cried because their family was finally going to have this special adoption to celebrate and they could begin to heal and be whole again. It makes my heart pound just thinking about being a tiny part of the story for this little baby.
I’ve been at CASA for almost 5 years. This is the kind of work we do. Please donate so we can continue to step up when children need it most. Every foster child needs a CASA!
YOUR GIFT IS HER SAFE PLACE
No one could have prepared me for my first experience as a CASA. The moment my CASA mentor shared the story of this precious girl, my heart was pulled to support her.
Before we met for the first time, I wanted to get to know her by reading the many documents in her file. The reports were heartbreaking. Some of them were this girl's actual account of her lived experience. Reading her own words of the sexual abuse she endured was devastating. I cried. I was full of so many emotions. Sadness, frustration, heartache, and anger. How could anyone hurt a child the way her perpetrators did? And most importantly, how was I going to help her? How could I support her?
I called my CASA mentor and after crying with me, she shared wise counsel and reminded me I could make a difference in this child's life - even if it was small.
Many children in our valley have similar experiences as this sweet girl. Each of us can make a difference in their lives. Whether that's contributing our time or money - we can step up for these children. Please evaluate your circumstances and make the commitment today to give hope to a child who needs you.
YOUR GIFT IS CHAMPIONING THEIR VOICE
One of my cases involved siblings ages 16, 14, and 12. They had been in foster care for a long time and were now living in a facility, not with a family.
When I met the boy, I immediately recognized him because of a social media post I had seen about a missing runaway youth. I had shared the post because his face was so sweet. I asked him why he had run away and it turns out he had run away 6 different times! He did not like living in a facility. I asked him to please not run away again and explained why.
His sister and I talked about how she wanted to be a cheerleader but because she lived in the facility, she could not do any activities outside of school hours.
The youngest child just wanted to live in a home with a family.
When I started to drive home, I cried. Really cried. And I had to pull over. These kids needed a voice. They had hopes and dreams and they deserved so much more. So… I tried to give them a voice.
I worked closely with the caseworker from the Health & Welfare Department. The next time I saw the kids, I thanked the young man for not running away. His response was, “Well, you asked me not to.” Is that all it took? He just needed an adult in his life to offer guidance.
Well, it turns out his biological dad was located and the boy was asked to join their family. He was officially adopted, graduated from high school, and attended youth leadership camp.
His sisters are not far away. They were adopted by an aunt and uncle who had another daughter similar in age. They make sure the girls are reunited with their brother often.
The older daughter has now graduated from high school where she was encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities like cheerleading! She is now attending university and studying to be a social worker. The youngest had her wishes come true to live in a home with a loving family.
All of the kids triumphed. I was able to advocate for them to move away from a facility where they felt sad and confined and into homes where they are happy, safe, and celebrated. And they have grown into leaders and cheerleaders.
Being a CASA and being a voice is vital for kids in foster care. Please volunteer or donate today. Kids need you.
YOUR GIFT IS HEALING FAMILIES
A father who had an extensive criminal history was about to welcome his 3-year-old daughter into his home for the first time. I visited his house to look around before she came to live with him. I have been on hundreds of home visits as a CASA and have experienced lots of crazy things, but nothing prepared me for this visit.
The dad was so incredibly gracious when I arrived and he gave me a tour of the entire home. When we got to the room he had prepared for his daughter, he was so proud and excited!
If I am completely honest, it looked as if a group of Disney princesses had thrown up all over her room. It was completely pink and frilly with princess things in every corner. He asked me if I liked it and although it wasn’t my idea of beautiful, I was pretty sure his daughter would like it.
After the tour, we planned the schedule for daycare and for routines at home. He was eager to learn as this was the first time he had ever parented. It was encouraging that he was taking steps to make his daughter’s childhood stable. He was preparing for his princess to come home.
It's always so cool to see families heal, take those second chances, and find a different, better way forward together. That might be one of my favorite parts of my CASA journey.
YOUR GIFT IS A FOREVER FAMILY
I am a CASA! My first assignment began in January and I met Catelyn in a foster home. In February, she was transferred to a different foster family that was interested in adoption.
Catelyn had some developmental issues that I researched and communicated to the family about. As I have followed this assignment visiting the home monthly, I have watched her overcome many of these issues.
At first she had very limited vocabulary and now she is speaking in sentences! I was invited to her birthday party where I was able to see how comfortable she is interacting with other children in addition to her two older foster siblings.
A couple weeks ago, she was legally adopted! This included a name change. I will never forget that day as she was free to walk around the courtroom and decided she would take the bailiff's finger and lead him towards the judge’s bench as she pointed to the judge. It was adorable.
Catelyn now has a permanent home with a loving family. She has a Mom and a Dad, and siblings. She is forever in my heart! This is why we do what we do.
CASA of Southwest Idaho exists to serve children who have been abused and neglected and are placed in foster care. We come alongside children 0-18 years old to provide best-interest advocacy through a caring and invested CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer the entire time a child is in care.
In order to serve every single child in foster care here in Southwest Idaho this year, we need 61 more CASA volunteers! If you have 8 hours a month to bring hope to a child, we'd love to meet with you! We provide extensive training and support so you can truly champion children who need your voice.
YOUR GIFT IS HIS SAFE AND LOVING HOME
Today was the official adoption day for David. He was excited, but he was also a bit confused. He would have a new last name.
When his parents were meeting with the attorney, David came and sat with me. He asked me to take him into the courtroom when it was time. I realized at that moment that I was the person David has known the longest. I have been his Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) since his first birthday and we just celebrated his fourth birthday.
There are some happy and rewarding moments to this work. David is safe. He has a family. He gets to grow up in a loving and happy home. It costs about $100 a month to advocate for a child in Idaho. Please give generously so boys like David can have someone by their side in the courtroom elevating their voice and their needs! Every foster child needs a CASA!
YOUR GIFT IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
This little baby had so many tubes attached to him. He had multiple birth defects and deficiencies. He was born to a mom addicted to meth. She left her baby son at the hospital and never came back.
I became his CASA and visited him twice a week. I would rock him for 45 minutes each time. He was hooked up to so many monitors that every time I picked him up all the machines would beep at me. I nicknamed him Beeper.
While rocking him I noticed tremors every 90 seconds which led the incredible medical team at St. Luke's to a diagnosis of a seizure disorder. I also noticed that he would get upset when I stopped rocking so he did have appropriate cognitive recognition.
He had gone through five surgeries for ‘short gut’ because his small intestine didn’t develop correctly. This little guy had to have all his nutrition through an IV. He had been in the hospital for 7 months and would have to be moved to a facility if a family could not be found for him.
We worked hard to find him a family. Miraculously, a couple within the state wanted to care for Beeper. They ended up adopting him and giving him all the love he had been lacking from a family. He was a fragile little guy, but his new mom sent me photos of him bouncing and happy!
He had almost a year of living with this amazing family before he passed away from medical complications. Although the story has a sad ending, I am happy knowing that the last year of his life was full of love and joy. I can’t help but smile when I think of little Beeper. I am grateful I was his CASA.
Please donate. Little guys like Beeper need us.
YOUR GIFT IS HALTING GENERATIONAL TRAUMA
I am mentoring a CASA volunteer who is advocating on a case of a child whose mother was arrested for drugs.
The CASA has supported the mom to get back on track, follow plans, and make wise decisions so she can have her son at home again. The mom has worked very hard. Her son was able to come back home on an extended visit and everything has continued with positive progress.
Last week, I got a call from the mom and she wanted to thank me for bringing the CASA volunteer into her life. She is now going to church and Bible study with the CASA and has found a wonderful, encouraging community within the church.
The cutest part is the mom’s mom and the volunteer’s mom have become friends! Of course all four of these women adore the son and he has gained an amazing support system around him.
They all go to his football games and cheer him on. It is a wonderful situation. I am happy for everyone, especially this boy who needed stability.
At CASA, we wear a lot of different hats because every case is different. The main thing is that we are there. We value your donation and your gift of time as a volunteer.
VOLUNTEERS INCREASE IMPACT EXPONENTIALLY
This week, I spent about 10-12 hours on the phone with 15 of my 32 volunteers to discuss their cases, solve problems, strategize their approach to advocacy and generally mentor them. I spent a couple dozen more hours editing their court reports, attending court and attending meetings.
I just counted, and that 10 to 12 hours of phone time represented 52 children.
15 volunteers and 52 children!!
That doesn't even include the other 17 volunteers who did not need to talk to me this week. Sometimes, it's hard to articulate how a paid staff member is a good investment for contributions to our program. I mean, it's more fun to donate to buy toys for foster kids, or buy something special for them.
And yes!! They need something special. They need to know someone cares enough to get them a nice toy or a new outfit. But advocacy literally changes their lives. I cannot express how much the advocacy changes their lives, especially when the Health and Welfare Department is so short staffed. Kids fall through giant cracks, but our advocates are there.
Do you know how many children I could serve myself if I spent that same 10-12 phone hours doing all the work my volunteers are doing? Maybe 3 or 4. That's nothing compared to the 52 kids who benefited from 15 volunteers just this week.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the program. They cannot do the work without me and our program. People understand "donate to buy a unicorn toy for a child in foster care." How do we explain buying advocacy for a child?
I am so grateful for our volunteers. I'm so grateful for our donors who make it happen.
Thank you to those who have donated, both time and money. You change lives.
YOUR GIFT IS HIS ANCHOR
Can you imagine being a 6 year-old and told you’d be moving for the fourth time in two weeks?
It’s common for children of this age to wonder when they’ll get to eat their favorite brand of chicken nuggets again or if they will get to play football during recess with their friends.
Sadly, this little one had experienced so much trauma that he acted out. And due to his behavior, he moved often. Once he was even housed in an Airbnb with teen boys and staff members, as opposed to living in a family setting.
His CASA was the one consistent adult who connected with him at each location. She always brought a craft with her to share with him during their visit. This gave the little guy something to look forward to in the midst of change.
His CASA found him in each home or Airbnb he lived in, and she showed up reliably for him every time. She built trust. Despite his everchanging surroundings, she was consistent. This might seem small, but for a child who had no stability, this provided an anchor for him.
Please consider donating today so foster children can have a consistent, caring voice in their corner, no matter what!