As we close November, we look back at what makes us grateful. For all of us here at CASA, we are grateful for the people who support the children we serve. November spotlights a special group that provides a safe, caring home to the kids we serve—caregivers.
President Biden proclaimed November as National Family Caregivers Month. The proclamation recognizes “the love and sacrifice of more than 50 million Americans providing crucial care and medical assistance to parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones, ensuring their health and dignity.”
In Kentucky, there are nearly 100,000 children (9% of all children) being raised by a relative, which is the highest in the nation. According to the Kinship Care of KY, approximately 15,000 of those children were removed from their original home due to abuse and/or neglect.
CASA volunteers work closely with caregivers to ensure children are safe and thriving. Here’s an example of how two CASA volunteers helped grandma when she became the caregiver.
When children find themselves in Family Court, it is through no fault of their own. CASA received a case of three children, Mandy, Sam, and Charlie*. Charlie was only 9 months old when doctors found he had an oblique fracture in his arm. In an infant, this could have only been caused by hitting, pulling, or yanking the arm. Mom denied any wrongdoing, but she has a history of neglect. When Mandy was just a toddler, she was found wandering the street.
Eventually, all the children were removed from mom's care and were placed with their grandmother.
Jennifer and Alexa, two new CASA volunteers (CASAs) decided to take on the case. At first, the kids were shy and apprehensive of strangers. But Jennifer and Alexa were consistent, visited regularly, helped kids with their schoolwork, and even played different types of games.
One evening when grandma was cooking dinner, the kids were playing with the CASAs. Usually, Charlie is very shy and doesn’t like people picking him up. When dinner was over, the kids, including Charlie, ran to Jennifer & Alexa for a hug.
Besides visiting with children, the CASAs made sure they kept everyone on the case in the loop, from social workers, guardians ad litem, to their CASA Supervisor. As child advocates, they also make recommendations to the court. For example, because of the children’s educational and developmental delays, Jennifer and Alexa worked with the school district to get the kids evaluated and paired with the right educational services.
Jennifer and Alexa have been a constant support to grandma, especially navigating the court system and processing guardianship. With the CASAs knowledge, strength, and consistent emotional/mental support, grandma was awarded full and permanent custody.
Our CASAs cannot serve and protect children without caregivers. We are grateful for the thousands of men and women who take on the role of caregiver/guardian/parent to the most vulnerable children in our community.
To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, join our monthly virtual information sessions on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month. Info/RSVP: www.casarr.org/casa101
*Names have been changed to protect children’s privacy.