Colleen has been a CASA Volunteer Advocate for Ingham County since April 2018. She became interested in CASA after becoming an "empty nester." Colleen explains, “I work full time in the Michigan Office of Child Support, so CASA seemed to be a natural extension of the work I do every day, helping to promote healthy families and strong communities. Seeing a family fractured by substance abuse or mental health challenges is certainly heartbreaking but being sympathetic is simply not enough. Understanding how abuse and neglect can affect children caught up in a family dynamic they have no control over is sobering but knowing that there are many avenues to be part of a solution is empowering.” She continues, “When a child enters the child welfare system because his or her home is no longer safe due to abuse or neglect, a judge may appoint a committed volunteer (CASA) to advocate for the best interest of the child in court and other settings. There are many adults involved in a typical case (foster care workers, attorneys, judges, therapists, healthcare professionals, foster care parents, etc.) and this is often confusing and frightening for the children involved.” Colleen continues, “Knowing that I, as a CASA, am a consistent presence to ensure their voices are heard and their needs are met is very satisfying. Although it has taken many months to develop their trust and a certain level of confidence, I am personally touched when the children for which I advocate are noticeably happy to see me in their home, school or daycare setting on a weekly basis. The excellent training that I receive on an ongoing basis from CASA provides me the tools I need to step out and be a competent voice for children I serve. Under the watchful guidance of my supervisor and other support staff, I have been able to develop both personally and professionally in my role as an advocate. Although initially unsure of how I could be effective, I am more confident than ever that I am a strong voice for the children I represent!”
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