Grace Pool, a CASA volunteer since 2006, has served a total of seven children on three different cases. Read on to find out why Grace finds her work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate so compelling.
I was on my first case for over two years, and during that time the two children involved in the case, ages one and three, were in multiple placements. I would visit them soon after each move, and on one such occasion the look of relief and recognition in their young eyes when they saw me melted my heart. The children sat on my lap and the older of the two marveled at my ability to always ‘find’ them.
Being a CASA volunteer is more than a ‘feel good’ role for people who love children and want the best for them. It is a professional, respected and powerful role; our involvement and objectivity is critical to the lives of the children we represent.
On my second case, there were many reasons which lead me to feel strongly that the child involved should not be returned to the custody of his mother, and I addressed those issues in my court report. At the hearing, the attorneys informed the Judge that they had an agreed order, which would return custody of the child to his mother. Upon hearing this, the Judge looked surprised, asked if any of the attorneys had read the CASA report, and then stated that, based on the information in the CASA report, she had serious concerns regarding returning custody of the child to the mother, and could not sign the order.
The mother’s parental rights were terminated at a subsequent hearing. The child is now thriving in his foster home, and the foster mother has expressed her intent to adopt him. While recommending that parental rights be terminated is not easy, and the finality of that decision is jarring, I know I fulfilled my role as a CASA volunteer by advocating for the best interests of the child.