For privacy, we do not name our volunteers.
What drew you to the CASA program?
I adopted my son through the Massachusetts Foster to Adoption Program. He was three days old when he came to live with me, and with the support of an amazing adoption team at DCF, I was able to formally adopt Ben at 11 months. Working with DCF case workers, seeing their commitment, and hearing their stories made me want to stay involved in the child welfare arena. I considered fostering but ultimately decided that I could have a broader impact through the CASA program. I have the privilege of being an advocate for my son and want to enable and empower struggling families with the same tools for advocacy for their own children.
How did you feel going through the process of onboarding (interview, training, etc.) and receiving a case assignment?
Initially, I was surprised by the amount of information and training that was involved, which included lots of processes and rules. Would I do everything the right way? Would I say something wrong? Am I emotionally equipped to handle these potentially traumatic environments? But ultimately, the intensive training gave me confidence and empowered me to ask the right questions and to really dig into my first case because I had the tools to do so effectively.
Debi (Belkin) and Sarah (Segura) were instrumental in guiding me through my first court report and were always available when I needed guidance. During my first case, most of my early conversations with Sarah were gut checks. Am I approaching this the right way? What do you think about this? It was extremely helpful to get the reassurance that my thought process was right and that my instincts were supported.
What has it been like to work and connect with the child and adults that you are involved with?
I was initially concerned about the time commitment. How would this obligation fit into an already busy schedule? The reality is that I quickly invested in the family that I was supporting, and it was easy to carve out time because I genuinely wanted to check in with the child and the child’s support team. Her victories became my victories. Helping a family through a tough transition and ensuring that support systems are in place and working effectively is extremely rewarding.
What qualities or strengths have you found to be the most valuable in doing this work?
Patience. Perseverance. Trust. There’s an element of trusting the system and trusting that everyone involved with the case has the child’s best interests at heart. I tried to approach each conversation from a place of positivity and compassion; to see all sides. I was lucky enough to join a case with a mother who recommitted to providing a better environment for her kids. She was invested in doing the work. It wasn’t always smooth sailing but knowing that we were all coming from the same place made it easier for the entire team (CASA, DCF, mom, child, school, etc.) to fully support the child and to make decisions that were in her best interest. Mom is doing really well and recently called me to tell me about a great call that she had with her daughter’s school. She was so proud of her, and she wanted to share that with me. It was an amazing feeling.