Helping CASAs Promote a Normalcy Rarely Experienced by Foster Children
We are thrilled to share this guest post by Beth Nolan, who is the Program Director of CASA of San Mateo County. Beth works closely with her CASA volunteers to apply for our Social Worker/CASA Resource Grant Program.
“I want to come again!” Hearing those words was so very special for Linda, a volunteer with CASA of San Mateo County. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of San Mateo County partners caring adults with children who have come under the court’s protection because their parents can’t or won’t take care of them. CASA volunteers meet weekly with a child and spend more one-on-one time with their children than any of the professionals involved in a child’s life. They are often the only consistent adults spending time with and advocating for these children during the entire time they are in the foster care system.
David, age 9, and his two brothers were removed from their parents’ home when he was 7. He suffered severe neglect, witnessed many incidents of serious domestic violence and had difficulty adapting to his foster home. He tried to run away several times, had many behavioral problems at school and, because of his negative experiences, he did not trust adults. He would not talk to his foster mother, his teacher, or his CASA volunteer, Linda.
For nearly two years, Linda met with David weekly. They visited the zoo, played at the park, and walked her dog at the beach. Though David was willing to spend time with Linda, and even occasionally smiled at her, he remained silent.
Yet Linda never gave up. This past summer, David could not fully participate in a summer program because he did not know how to swim. Linda applied for a Philanthropic Ventures grant to enroll him in lessons. His first lesson was challenging. David was afraid of the water so Linda repeatedly encouraged him to get into his swimsuit and into the water, which he did. As David became more comfortable in the pool, he looked over at Linda after each accomplishment with a proud, happy grin. When the lesson ended, David eagerly said to Linda – “I want to come again!”
Since that special day when David found his voice and finally trusted an adult enough to share his feelings, he has continued to speak.
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation continues to help CASA of San Mateo County transform the lives of foster children. CASA Volunteers have received grants for a variety of causes – each very important to the life of a child. PVF has made the following possible: tutoring for a 6th grade girl who is far behind academically due to multiple moves; basketball camp for a 10 year old boy recently reunified with his mother, new glasses for a teen preparing to emancipate from foster care and a laptop for a young man who recently became orphaned.
The ease and efficiency of the CASA Resource Grant Program at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation promotes a normalcy that our foster children rarely experience.