For children like Samantha, “childhood” means something very different from what most of us knew growing up. There’s the 8 year old whose mother tells her over and over again how “ugly, fat, and stupid” she is, while repeatedly physically abusing her. There’s the 14 year old who is afraid to go to sleep because her step father might slip into her room. And there’s the 5 year old, whose parents are trying hard to maintain his health and safety, but keep falling on hard times.
These are the children our CASAs serve. Our CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers not only make sure that an overburdened, over-worked court system hears the voices of the youngest and most vulnerable whom it serves, but also provide these children with a constant, consistent, positive adult in their lives; an adult who will tell them that they are beautiful, and smart, and worthy of love.
A judge told this story recently. “When 8-year old Walter came into my courtroom, he had just been moved to his 7th foster home. Walter’s parents suffered from drug addiction and were not able to keep him safe, or tend to his basic needs. By the time I met him, he had been with 6 different caseworkers, 2 attorneys, and even (I’m embarrassed to say) 3 different judges who had worked on his case. And 1 CASA