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!
This time of year, images of love surround us. With children, we speak of friendship and kindness, compassion and empathy. Ideally, red construction paper cards, cuddly stuffed animals, and sugary pink treats fill their Valentine’s Day. These are such sweet visuals of a warm, positive emotion: LOVE.
Unfortunately, CASA volunteers know that love doesn’t always look and feel the same for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. In these homes, love is sometimes tangled up with anger, harsh words, or indifference. For instance, in a home with domestic violence, children see that love hurts. In a home with mental illness, children see that love may look like loneliness.
Children in homes like these will need to break cycles and build healthy relationships in their future. This is totally possible, with a safe adult role model, like a Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteers are able to model healthy boundaries and appropriate responses to big emotions. They sow into a child’s self esteem so that a sense of worth can grow.
Luckily, children and their hearts are strong! They are resilient. They respond when they are exercised. Children who feel valued treat themselves, and others, more positively. They don’t get discouraged as easily. They become more productive and make meaningful contributions to their peers, and as they grow up, their community.
When a child feels loved, their whole outlook on life changes. May all CASA children feel the same as the 11-year old child who said, “[My CASA] kinda made me feel important.”