With a Master’s degree, specialized CASA training as a special education advocate, and rich professional practical experience throughout Massachusetts, Alison Greene was first motivated to become a CASA after her own journey garnering support for her child with special needs.
In 2018, Debi Belkin, FOC’s Director of Programs, invited Greene to provide more intensive training for CASA volunteers who advocate for foster children with special needs. Thrilled to find the CASAs at Friends of Children to be knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers, Greene frequently shares her special education expertise. A typical concern might involve helping a fellow CASA convince a school district to perform educational screening tests for a foster child.
Greene also serves as a lead advocate for cases involving foster children whose special needs require more substantial research. When the court assigns her to such cases, she gathers information from the child, the family, the schools, the Department of Children and Families, and mental health workers to ensure that procedures have been followed correctly. Given the strain that the pandemic has placed on the ability of schools to help families with these procedures, Greene’s service has only become more critical.
For the many CASAs serving foster children with special needs, encouraging schools and foster families to collaborate on an effective, individualized plan of action for a child can pose significant challenges.Understanding the unique strengths, history, and needs of each child requires time and trust. But the rewards of such effort are realized when children discover hope for the future as they receive the support they need. As Greene says, “One of my takeaways is that you have to have a very good picture of a child’s profile before you can meet their needs.”