I started with Child Advocates on August 5th. Since then, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting so many people. It’s amazing to me how many different kinds of people are connected to the organization.
Once past the initial introduction, I usually get the big question that can be summed up as, “Ok, what now?” Obviously, I am fortunate in that there is an amazing staff and board in place. We have the support of the county and the courts. Most of all, we have a strong base of volunteers ready to help. Because of that, we are already off and running!
But seriously, what now? To answer that, I have to start with what I think is the ideal CASA program. To me, the ideal CASA program empowers the community to solve the challenge of child abuse and neglect.
The ideal CASA program doesn’t have answers so much as it creates connections. It connects caring and committed people to the most vulnerable members of our city. An ideal CASA program empowers volunteers to do something directly on behalf of someone who could really use their help.
Think of it this way: We don’t know the law as well as the judge or GALs. We also don’t have the same understanding of child welfare as the human services department.
But what we have is community. We have the understanding of the people who live here. How do they want to solve this issue? In other words, we have direct access to their voice. Now it’s our job to make sure that the community is connected to these children and that everyone’s voice be heard. And when I say everyone, I do mean the children and youth too.
The good news is that people within the system want to hear this voice. They want to know. And we can’t wait to help.