We consulted with CASA children to find out what makes a great advocate. It turns out there are four key components of a Court Appointed Special Advocate… and they happen to be things we all have: eyes, ears, hearts, and minds!
At their core, Court Appointed Special Advocates are individuals simply looking out for the best interests of children. They see an individual child for who they are, not letting them be defined by the trauma they have experienced. More importantly, they see who that child can become, recognizing their strengths and potential.
We all look through various lenses, based on our own life experiences. Our lenses impact what we see and how we interpret what is seen. For example, we describe someone who is optimistic as wearing ‘rose colored glasses.’ In contrast, someone who wears ‘jade colored glasses’ filters out the good to see only the negative. Our lenses sometimes deceive us if they are shaded by biases or preconceived notions.
CASA volunteers are trained to use a “Resources Lens” when observing a child and their family. A ‘resources lens’ focuses on identifying strengths, while the opposite, a ‘deficit lens,’ looks for problems. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but using a ‘resource lens’ allows us to find positives that can be built upon. By finding positives that already exist in a family, we tap into them to create the best solutions possible.
If we look through a ‘resource lens,’ we are likely to:
- Find positive aspects of a family or situation
- See a person or family as an expert of their own life experience
- Identify supports and create healthy options
- Encourage, empower, and inspire
CASA volunteers are observant. After all, they help a judge who does not have the opportunity to see beyond the courtroom get a fuller picture of a child. Advocates identify and leverage strengths that already exist… and that is the ideal building block for making positive changes in a child’s life. As one CASA child said, “[My CASA] made me feel like I was not stuck in the middle of the problems that me and my family had.”
Great things come when a child feels seen for more than just their trauma!