Bettie recently retired as a CASA volunteer advocate after serving the children of Barry County since March of 2017. Three years ago, Bettie heard about CASA’s mission to advocate for children in the Barry community who are under court jurisdiction due to abuse and neglect. Bettie says, “Becoming a CASA Volunteer Advocate was one of best decisions I’ve ever made!” She continues, “I feel blessed to have been able to step in these children’s terrible lives to make a difference. I knew drugs and Meth can destroy families, but never knew there were so many children impacted by drug addicted/using parents.” Bettie explains, “Often, the children experience numerous changes - several foster homes, multiple case workers and/or therapist’s changes, moving school districts and sometimes have parents who don’t show up for visitations. She continues “I’ve been able to provide stability for a child whose world has been turned upside-down. I visited the kids each week and they knew they could always count on me to support them in whatever they needed.” Bettie explains, “I was able to see things that the case worker did not just because I was able to spend more time with the children. With my support system I was able to help a foster mother get quicker reimbursement for things like eyeglasses, encourage those involved to get ADHD testing and medication for the children that needed it, work with teachers and help with homework, and communicate the child’s needs to those who could make a difference.” Bettie wanted to help make a difference in a child’s life and she certainly has! THANK YOU so much for your advocacy for children, Bettie!
Amelia has been a CASA Volunteer Advocate for Ingham County since June 2019 and has served as a CASA in two states. Amelia shares, “I came across the term amicus curiae ("friend of the court") five years ago and CASA was cited as an example. Out of curiosity, I started researching more about CASA and came across the gut-wrenching stories and statistics about child abuse and neglect in the country. My heart convinced me to start living a more intentional life. As a CASA, I can help mitigate the effects of the trauma these children endure. Upon first meeting most children in foster care, there is an understanding level of resistance. I take that challenge head on and I provide them with the attention and love all children need. The moment when I can finally tell that they have learned to trust me, lets me know I’m making a positive impact. It is so heartwarming to finally see their frowns turn into smiles.” Amelia explains, “since I was sworn in to serve, I’ve handled three cases. Each one was unique. One case in another state specifically included a child involved in sex trafficking who I constantly advocated for to receive suitable mental health care. It was by far one of my toughest cases. This delicate child needed a stabilizing force in her life. I was determined to be that by going above and beyond the requirements. Witnessing her confidence and self-esteem blossom was most gratifying. This young lady proceeded to excel in high school and went on to attend college despite her circumstances.” Amelia continues, “advocating for these children has given me nothing but joy! I believe we are all created for more than just ourselves. The magnitude of child abuse is overwhelming but maybe, just maybe I can make a difference and change at least one life for the better in a very personal way. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing the positive change in my children when I share genuine love and care for them. I highly recommend others to become a part of this amazing organization. No experience with children is required to become a CASA Volunteer Advocate. CASA will prepare you to be the best child advocate by providing excellent training and education along with continual support from their incredibly dedicated and supportive staff!”
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!”